Yes, these are good points.
My inference from this passage is that when the employment situation favors whites — which it typically does — that some attention be paid to that favoritism. In other words, because the default setting is favorable to whites as a consequence of white supremacy, whites should be aware that some of these rewards are given due to being white, rather than simply default to ‘I earned it.’
Many studies have shown a distinct favoritism for white people even amongst people of color and in particular in studies of implicit/unconscious bias. My inference is that Mr. Pendoley is acknowledging an already-present deep-seated institutional bias that exists when whites are promoted, etc, and he is promoting awareness of that for whites so that in cases where the person of color may be better qualified, the reward — whatever it may be — doesn’t ‘bend’ in the direction of the white person on the basis of the institutionalized advantage.
Frankly, the phrase ‘holding back’ is a likely subconscious/unconscious revelation of white dominant thought processes. I perceive this essay as coming from a sincere white person who wants to make changes. However, the phrase ‘holding back’ implies that, in order to be fair to people of color, white people will have to compress their natural talents, implying that at baseline whites are better. Obviously, if people of color need whites to ‘hold back’ in order to be successful, then whites are better if they are allowed the actual, full range of their abilities. To me, a POC, this seems a reversal of reality, which is that white supremacy favors whites, therefore lowering the bar for actual achievement.
For example, Fortune 500 companies are dominated by whites (mostly men) at executive levels where decisions — and money — are made, by a factor of more than twice as many as represented in the general population. Unless we assume a natural leadership ability amongst them, we have to admit a favoritism that constantly pulls in that direction, especially since this persists. That favoritism is white supremacy.
A more accurate phrase might state that whites ‘do not automatically take’ each and every advantage that confers to them, and consider the impact of white supremacy when these decisions are made. This phrasing is more accurate to me as a WOC because I perceive whites as conferring favors to each other even when POC perform at higher levels. This phraseology is a perfect example of the way in which truly sincere white people still believe, subconsciously, that POC are fundamentally lower-performing and therefore need whites to hand them this favor.
This is upside-down. There is no need for white people to ‘hold back.’ Simply do not take unearned advantages which automatically confer on the basis of unearned and immutable traits. Simply remove the heavy foot of white supremacy. We are already accomplishing well, even with that heavy foot on our necks. Isn’t the real fear exactly how much more we can accomplish, not if whites ‘hold back,’ but if they simply play fair?