Yes, that’s really good.
It is the application of the general to specific that I was trying to describe, but it just didn’t come into focus in the way you’ve stated it just here. You put your finger on it.
The other thread to untangle from that statement–and maybe you can help me out here (because I even have an issue with white privilege as a concept…but not in the obvious way you would think. So try to hear me out). My problem is with the category of “white” from which “white privilege” then stems. The idea of who is white has changed so much, and so often, that I think it’s a false step. The different people* that colonized the Americas (English, German, French, Spanish mostly) did not group themselves together as being “white”. They would have considered themselves very different from each other and in competition with each other. (and to look back into history and just be like, “nahhhh, you’re white” disregarding that they would never group themselves together is…I don’t know what it is…it’s as bad as telling the Hootoos an the Tootsies that they’re the same type of people…cuz from where we’re standing they’re “close enough”.)
*and I mean specifically the ‘owners’ who advanced their industries (be they the heads of the East India Tea Company, the conquistadors, or the Calvinist church leaders). I am specifically not talking about the unfortunate poor people that were spirited away and made to work for these vampires (which includes people from different tribes of black people (who again would not have considered themselves to be of the same grouping and would have otherwise been in competition), as well as the Irish, English poor, and others)
So why do I bring this up?
Because–from my understanding–white privilage is the grooves through which modern day white people can slip-a-dip more easily up the social or economic ladder (there are other grooves, and new grooves can be cut in but just like when you drop a needle on a record it follows a track that has less resistance than these other methods).
So the error is: that it wasn’t “white people” that carved those grooves into society to begin with–since there was no such self-definition then–It’s a lens we’re projecting onto the past that suits our modern definition. And even our modern idea of who is white is only about 60 years old with the inclusion of Italians during WWII (Thaddeus Russell is currently writing a book on this very subject and I’m very eager to read how our idea of whiteness was synthetically constructed then).
So how can we say that since white people set up the US that white people will benefit from it.
Perhaps this is too complex/abstract a thing to try to describe.