I was thinking about this the other day, and finally decided to try to put it to words. In all these threads about being white == being racist, there seems to be a certain assumption that underlies it all, the assumption that all white people more or less owe whatever position or job or anything they have solely to their whiteness, because more qualified non-whites would otherwise have taken their position.
But this is a rather precarious notion when whites are a majority. For instance, I think African-Americans are only about 14% of the population. Whites are over 50%, in some places significantly so. What this means from a practical standpoint is that, all other things being equal, racism or not, when you are white and you are competing for a job, your main competitor from a purely demographic standpoint will be another white person. Because if, say, there are 10 people representing the population as a whole vying for a job, then 7 or so of them will be white, and only one will be black. If there are three positions that those 10 people are seeking (in competition with each other) then no matter how well the African-American does - if he or she is the best qualified, or at least in the top 3, that still leaves two slots available for white applicants. So really, the only white people to get a benefit from racism are those at the margins - those who are at the bottom end of those who would get a job who might only get one if a qualified minority is kept out of the position due to racism. The other two whites would have gotten the job regardless, because somebody had to fill those jobs, and there simply are far more white people in the population than African-Americans.
And this simple demographic fact means that no matter how bad the racism is, there simply are not enough employment "spoils" to go around to benefit all whites - because the main competitor for things, such as jobs, will always be other whites as long as they are in the majority. So to blanket claim, for instance, that all whites have their jobs over non-whites due to racism is just plain false, even if there is rampant racism (which today, there isn't - in fact, in employment, it is ILLEGAL and you can pay MILLIONS OF DOLLARS if you violate that law). I don't claim it is gone, or that people still might risk losing their businesses and livlihood in order to continue racism, but it is far far less than it used to be.
Now, this demographic situation didn't exist where there has been racism elsewhere - South Africa being the prime example. There, whites as a whole really did benefit from racism because they were a very small part of the population, so there probably was almost enough employment "spoils" to go to all of them, regardless of qualifications. But then, the United States is not South Africa.
I know employment isn't everything, but it sure is hell is the most important thing in one's life as an adult unless you are independently wealthy. Later, when I have time, I am going to tackle the long list of alleged white benefits I've seen mentioned elsewhere.
NOTE: I sure hope this won't turn into a blog that comments mostly on racism - but I guess I haven't quite exhausted my words on this subject as of yet. I have other things I want to talk about - prosecutors, for instance, but that will have to wait for another day.
Oh, and I seem to have gotten in trouble in this thread for asking a question, which was only slightly loaded, but which I genuinely wanted the answer to.