This is excellent!
I think White people should deal with the internalized sense of superiority our society gives them AND engage more seriously with the concept of merit.
One of our biggest distortions is the concept of 'merit.' It can only exist if everyone has equal opportunity. We don't. White pp have more. So, in the case of White pp, it's always hard to tell what has been 'earned' and what has been gifted through White privilege. There are few professional settings that have objective parameters, like SAT scores, and even these are often manipulated by White pp to favor their own. In universities, when EVEN that doesn't work, they often 'donate' as a way of getting their children in.
Some variant of this happens between White pp in all settings: when their merit is inadequate, they change the rules. This is an internal positive attribution that SHOULDN'T HAPPEN. That is, White pp think if they got it, they must have earned it. But if they didn't get it and a POC did, internally, THEY STILL BELIEVE THEY DESERVE IT. This internalized superiority--this refusal to accept that by external parameters, a POC did a better job--leads them to ALLOW themselves to bend the rules. Thus, 'merit.' REAL merit is never allowed bc White pp have decided that the rule is WHITE ON TOP, NOT MERIT ON TOP.
I've observed this for about 30 professional years: White pp give themselves more credit than they deserve: they assume that they should always be on top, and when POCs start winning, they change the rules.
Sincere White pp in our circle, generally liberal, don't like to hear this. They assert that THOSE OTHER WHITE PP might be damaging merit, but they are the White person who ACTUALLY EARNED IT. Each time we ask them to explain how they've managed to separate their constant, permanent White privilege from what they call merit, they cannot. The reality is that, no matter how much merit they are exhibiting, they just DON"T KNOW how much privilege helped them bc it is EVERYWHERE.
I suggest to White pp, if they take your advice, that they next take action: attribute positive things externally: ASSUME PRIVILEGE, NOT MERIT. If each White person assumed privilege instead of always privileging themselves by assuming 'merit,' more of them would pause and ask, each time an award is promoted, a promotion is given, a salary is raised: DO I REALLY DESERVE THIS, OR IS A POC WHO DOESN'T HAVE MY PRIVILEGE GETTING CRUSHED WHEN I IGNORE MINE? The answer shouldn't be 'well, I know I'm the best and the bad white pp are OVER THERE.' It should be: when I get rewards, I will FIRST assume my white privilege.
See Brian Lowery's work at Stanford for better elaboration of this.
This applies more to middle class/professional circles. But this is where many of these White liberals are, and where they get away with these thought processes bc other White liberals support them. On that note, as a non White and nonBlack POC, I feel that it's important to remind myself of my privilege and advocate for greater African and Native American representation at these higher/leadership levels.