The Herald’s editorial asks, “What is lost by accepting the concept of white privilege?”
What is lost is logic, clear communication and effective persuasion.
A privilege is special, favorable treatment, earned or unearned. “White privilege” clearly means unearned privilege. And Americans agree that no one should have unearned privilege.
What is this unearned privilege? It is decent treatment by police and other authorities, and by society at large.
But we all agree no one should have unearned privilege. So, accepting the concept of white privilege logically means that no one should receive decent treatment.
The real problem is not fair treatment of people who believe themselves white, to use Ta-Nehisi Coates’ language asserting that race is a social construct. It's continued oppression of people who are not considered to be white.
When people who believe themselves white hear the term white privilege, they perceive a manipulative attempt to instill a personal sense of shame, even if they don’t formally analyze the ill-logic in it. They resent that, and they close their ears and minds. The term and the concept are counterproductive and ineffective.
We do need to talk with children, and among adults, about the oppression of people we do not consider white, and we should be appalled and work to end it. But individual shame belongs only to those who condone oppression or fail to try to do something about it. It is not properly inherited because of what other people do or have done.