Yes, I can appreciate this! My contact in this context typically includes a lot of POC’s who overperform relative to the white people being promoted (unjustly), and often to many of those white people above them.
I have consistently perceived a real threat of the white group majority: they are subconsciously frightened of the authentic higher level performance of nonwhite peoples. In my arena, this has been largely true: in fact, a wide range of peoples of color consistently outperform the white people around them, which I’ve observed is the MAIN reason the higher level white people respond defensively.
The main defensive response rests on a core value of ‘merit,’ which many whites seem to believe they’ve achieved despite the fact that ‘whiteness’ is often a significant source of their success. They don’t seem to be able to release the concept of merit, which continues to foster self-deception.
Merit: ‘We earned it.’ This is a preemptive strike which closes off conversation about the centuries of unjust enrichment that white people, as a group, enjoy. The more obvious it becomes that they are unable to compete, the more deceptive finagling is required to maintain that dominant position. This is very obvious in the case of Ivy League ‘donations.’ In the last generation or so, Asians as a group have performed significantly higher than whites as a group. But rather than the application of ‘merit,’ there is a complicated system of unjust enrichment in the form of felony — extortion — which is handily labelled ‘donation.’ This shows how irrelevant ‘merit’ is to success, and is negotiated at all levels and ages to create a sense of ‘earning’ when it doesn’t apply accurately. And it transmogrifies: it adjusts to whatever the collective group of white peoples needs to do to maintain collective power and dominance.
Another way of looking at this is to say that the last few centuries have been a fascist ‘quota’ in which white men have been unjustly enriched. None I’ve met want to perceive this; instead, their baseline is ‘white is better’ — often with objective evidence to the contrary — and so ANY response becomes a psychological mechanism to maintain this sense of superiority. Obviously, this will require greater and greater self-deception as the group is out-competed. Their idea of ‘quota,’ which implies that POC”s are being given something they didn’t earn, never includes the fact that white supremacy guaranteed their success by effectively excluding the other 90% of the human race. As portions of this ‘90%’ come into the US, they feel this threat as a group: how will we compete if ‘whiteness’ doesn’t do the work for us??
POC’s, understanding that they MUST work harder and achieve at higher levels to get the same — or less — than their white counterparts understand this reality and continue to exhibit that higher stamina, thus continuing to achieve at higher levels. It becomes a vicious cycle as the white people with power need to deceive themselves further in order to uphold the deceptive superiority in which they seem to truly believe.
I would note that many of these white people are ‘nice’ in person, and certainly on many parameters are individuals. As individuals, they are certainly not monoliths.
BUT the group behavior is different, and it has become more and more apparent to me as the years and decades pass: it supports a continued necessary deception that buttresses superiority in a context which, in fact, renders them more and more mediocre.