It has never been supposed to mean anything about an individual, and yet that is ALWAYS how it seems to be taken. We (as white and or males) can't help but see things from our individual perspective and take offense at the implication we ever had anything easier than anyone else.
I agree with others in the thread, we just need to throw away the word white privilege and come up with something else because it has been totally poisoned. I'm not saying there aren't overzealous "social justice warriors" that haven't contributed to the misunderstanding of the word.
Just remember, when people use the word white privilege, THEY ARE NOT REFERRING TO YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
This is a clue that perhaps your terminology is loaded, inflammatory, and should be changed.
I find that there's very little value in reasoning about race as a collective, since it's usually just a (overly) reductive variable for socioeconomic status, upbringing, or environment. If you mean those things, say those things. Attaching a racial modifier to a term and then expecting members of that race to not feel described or targeted by it makes no sense.
(And that goes double when that term is used, often, as an attack, not in the thoughtful way you describe, but that is a rant for another time.)
That is the entire point of the term. Because of your race, people do reason about your race, and do make assumptions about your socioeconomic status, upbringing, and environment. I'll grant you that there are (probably a very few) people who do get some satisfaction out of feeling like a victim but otherwise, nobody is more tired of reasoning about race in america than black americans (who are of course not the only discriminated against minority).
You seem to be implying that america is post racial and some of just won't let it go.
And you seem to have read your own biases into a very objective and clear point. That point being, stop banging on about how terrible it is people get defensive when you use offensive terms.
If your response to that is "but it's not", followed by yet another academic definition of "privilege" is.. stop. You've missed the point.
Offense is taken, not given. If your goal is to have a frank and honest discussion with someone rather than attack them, you do not lead off by using terminology that is racially charged (as if anyone can choose their race), minimizes someone's struggles in life (of which you necessarily know nothing), implies guilt (however slight), and which is frequently used in bad faith to shut down discussions anyways.
That may not be what you personally intend, but that is what the audience hears. Act accordingly.
Also, while perhaps not originally meant to be applied to an individual, that is the common experience with it. It is further compounded by picking only certain areas for privilege to matter and being very stereotyped. For example, one white privilege is going to a school where the majority of the student body was the same race. Except that isn't always true.
While the wording behind privilege is extremely toxic and needs to be done away with, much of the ideas behind it are what directly led to that toxicity to begin with.
>THEY ARE NOT REFERRING TO YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL FOR THE LOVE OF GOD
Yeah, if you ignore all the other times.