But black writer Shelby Steele argues that whites do blacks no favors wringing their hands about white privilege.
"I grew up in segregation," Steele told me. "So I really know what racism is. I went to segregated school. I bow to no one in my knowledge of racism, which is one of the reasons why I say white privilege is not a problem."
Steele claims, "the real problem is black irresponsibility. ... Racism is about 18th on a list of problems that black America faces."
Whites' preoccupation with guilt and compensation such as affirmative action is actually a subtle form of racism, writes Steele in his book "White Guilt". "One of the things that is clear about white privilege, and so many of the arguments for diversity that pretend to be compensatory, is that they advantage whites. They make the argument that whites can solve [black people's] problems. ... The problem with that is ... you reinforce white supremacy. ... And black dependency.
I agree. If you believe in "white privilege" then you must believe that whites control the destiny of blacks. I don't accept that.
Of course, there is still racism in America. At ABC News we've aired hidden-camera video showing sales clerks spying on black customers, cab drivers passing blacks to pick up whites and employers favoring white-sounding names.
Steele says those are minor problems.
"The fact is," he adds, "we got a raw deal in America. We got a much better deal now. But we can't access it unless we take ... responsibility for getting there ourselves."
Hard to disagree with that logic, but I'm sure some will. sigh