You've heard the argument and maybe even made it yourself, particularly if you're a man or woman of the left. Here is "Contact Reporter" Dahleen Glanton explaining earlier this year
It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not anybody’s fault. There’s no need to get defensive about it.
The best thing to do is just acknowledge it.
Being privileged does not necessarily mean that you have a perfect life. It does not mean that you come from wealth or that you always obtain everything you want — or deserve.
It doesn’t give you a pass to be lazy and shiftless. It doesn’t automatically guarantee you success. White skin no more relieves you of taking responsibility for your life, working hard and thinking smart than it does for people with dark skin.
It just means that you have a head start over the rest of us.
White privilege means that you were born with an inherent advantage over every other race of people. The whiteness of your skin alone allows you to leave the starting gate quicker and to run the race with fewer obstacles. White skin comes with certain other perks, too, many of which are taken for granted.
While not directly addressing the issue of "white privilege," Steve M. on Monday blogged about the perception among whites about racism, including their belief in "reverse racism" and the notion (which he refutes) of "a bright line between mainstream conservatism -- or even mainstream American whiteness -- and ... white nationalism." He links to a paper titled "Whites See Racism as aZero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing" by Samuel Sommers and Michael I. Norton, which appeared in 2011 in Perspectives on Psychological Science. The abstract (emphasis mine) reads
Although some have heralded recent political and cultural developments as signaling the arrival of a postracial era in America, several legal and social controversies regarding "reverse racism" highlight Whites' increasing concern about anti-White bias. We show that this emerging belief reflects Whites' view of racism as a zero-sum game, such that decreases in perceived bias against Blacks over the past six decades are associated with increases in perceived bias against Whites-a relationship not observed in Blacks' perceptions. Moreover, these changes in Whites' conceptions of racism are extreme enough that Whites have now come to view anti-White bias as a bigger societal problem than anti-Black bias.
If you are concerned that white people believe racism is a zero-sum game, you might want to rethink that "white privilege" thing (video below for entertainment purposes only).
The validity of the white privilege concept varies from person to person and is influenced by individual and family circumstances, especially wealth, but always infers that advantages are gained as a result of being white. The notion argues that being white grants unto people advantages from being white, and hence disproportionately disadvantages minorities. Assuming the prevalence and relevance of white privilege, non-whites cannot benefit without the withdrawal or termination of white privilege.
In this scenario, in which societal benefits are apportioned based on being white, the conclusion that racial justice is a zero-sum game is nearly inevitable. White privilege rules, minorities suffer; white privilege is eliminated, minorities benefit and whites are penalized. Breaking down the barriers of discrimination and ensuring equal access to education, housing, employment, and the like are utterly dependent upon ending white privilege- or so it goes.
The more whites hear of "white privilege," the more they see the game as one of zero-sum. That may be reflected in a belief that whites are victimized more than blacks by discrimination, that blacks are more racist than whites, by more overt hostility, or in other ways. However it's manifested, though, ungenerous views of blacks and their place in society will prevail among whites.
Many whites will simply conclude that a gain for minorities will be a loss for them. Stuck in a bad job or bad marriage, suffering bad health or substandard housing, poor and lower-middle class whites nonetheless will avoid outward expressions of racism. Meanwhile, the left will continue to bandy about the term "white privilege," with extra points for the condescension of "there's no need to get defensive about it." Donald Trump will be grateful.