I think that your attempt to empathize is admirable. But I wanted to point to an essential difference that is excluded by this statement, which implies to me that there is an equivalence between all parties who feel they must defend their identities.
The essential difference is power. When you speak of anti-racism, I believe this must include the concept of power. That is, a white person attempting to maintain whiteness is not simply attempting to maintain identity, he/she/they is also attempting to maintain power. And this power’s corollary is oppression for others. In the case of our current worldwide milieu, this is ‘whiteness as power’ and everybody else as relatively ‘inferior.’
So, the assertion that self-preservation is the only guiding principle cannot work as equivalent when applied to the white male who is attempting to preserve whiteness, because he is attempting to preserve both: 1. Identity; and 2. Power; ie the oppression of others.
Repeat: a preservation of whiteness is not only a preservation of identity, it is a preservation of oppression of others: many, many others ie, all non-Europeans.
By contrast, in the case of the POC, the attempt to participate in identity politics is an attempt to show that this oppression exists and to eliminate it. This form of identity politics is TRUE self-preservation: that is, it attempts to be EQUAL in the context of subordination.
It is incongruent to compare these items. Preserving whiteness means preserving the oppression of POC. POC attempts at identity, on the other hand, are in contrast: they attempt to regain equality which doesn’t exist, which is actual self-preservation.
Another way of saying this is that the oppressor and the oppressed are not the same, at least not in this regard, from a pragmatic standpoint.