Yes, I’ve noticed this for years. White liberals are holding onto their power and lack the courage (or something) to admit that their ‘anti-racism’ is a form of racism itself.
The way I test this is by listening to hear if that person will frame themselves as ‘helpful.’ This is, in my opinion, the most subtle form of racism, because it assumes that white people have an obligation to condescend to people of color, which only conveys that they are still invested in having that power. The way most white people can help people of color is simply by NOT taking advantages from others, and they usually claim they can’t even see how this happens. Typically, this happens when white people attribute their actual financial status to ‘merit.’ By doing this, they erase the fact that simply being white allows them a wide range of UNEARNED things, thus disrupting any sort of accurate definition of ‘merit.’ I find that each white liberal feels they, personally, have earned it but that a vague blob of racist white people out there are ‘taking advantage.’ All white people should question their merit as a matter of being embedded in a society which creates unmeritorious advantages for them continuously.
The reality is that being white creates a situation in which ‘merit’ is less applicable. Thus, a genuine response might be: I know that, as a white person, I am unjustly enriched by a system which ultimately gives me more economic power and benefit than it gives others. How can I ameliorate that?
The answer might be: economic. This is: reparations; refusal to donate money to Ivy League institutions when their children can’t compete; refusal to automatically take prizes (like Adele, when she gave half her award to Beyonce), promotions, awards when it’s obvious that white people tend only to reward other white people; not shifting the debate about economics to one small segment of the white population and distorting the data (as you point out: ‘Deaths of Despair’ is academic clickbait, and embarrassing to anybody familiar with academia, immediately marking it as politically, not scientifically, motivated;) etc. The list is long.
This requires thought processing that white liberals reject as a consequence of their distorted cognition; most white people have decided, whether consciously or not, that they are NOT returning these things, as a rule. Thus, the pragmatic result of their behavior is ultimately the same as any overt white supremacist: I keep your stuff (in particular, true of African-Americans and Native Americans/Indigenous.)
I have come to the conclusion that our demographic must shift in order to see real changes. Despite the fact that I’ve had these conversations for almost half a century, I can count the number of white people I know who are truly anti-racist with the fingers on less than one hand. Ultimately, the investment is in keeping money and power, even if it means a profound self-deception that, frankly, approaches psychosis at times.
Meanwhile, a friend has organized a group of nonwhite peoples, and in this context, we are able to feel accepted and not constantly on guard for the next insult a white liberal comes up with while courting their ignorance.
I say to white liberals: you cannot ‘help’ people whose performance — and perception of reality — is better than yours. You can politely move out of the way, and when we achieve at higher levels, let us win instead of subbing your whiteness for our actual achievement.