I certainly agree with your thesis that to understand white privilege (or male privilege, hetero-privilege, or female privilege, or class privilege or right-handed privilege or height-privilege or any time being one way has a systemic advantage over being another way) you need to hear about it from people who suffer because of it.
“These authors will — on the average — have more valuable observations to share”
“On the average” is an important qualifier, which I am pleased to see you included. Not everyone describes their experience of the exact same thing in the same way. Perception of privilege is very subjective.
For example, is the predominance of white, skin-toned bandages an outrage that others POC or is it a marketing reality because most shoppers have lighter skin tone and it doesn’t really matter. It is a matter of opinion, and the POC who doesn't care is just as valid as the one who does.
“Whatever observations we subsequently make will have a much stronger foundation in reality. “
So true, but that does not mean we have to accept the most extreme perceptions as the objective truth. Push back is healthy at times and does not always amount to gaslighting, but rather an intellectual doubt of the claim.
There are myriad reasons a person may have a distorted perception of what they experience, often based on past experiences. In some cases, those who hear about that perception have to make judgments. They should ask, “why does the person feel this way?” and, “are they even being authentic”.
The politics of privilege can create false stories or invalid interruptions of real events to serve power dynamics. The person’s perception may be true for them, but wrong in reality. Or they may be making a false claim, knowing full well it is false.
For example, security is checking the bags of every 5th person in line. It so happens the 5th person is a POC and the others are not. They may perceive that as racial profiling because they don’t why else they would be picked. Their perception is real, but not aligned with objective reality.
There is also another side of the coin. If a white person who has privilege is not allowed to question the experience a POC has, then, logically, the POC can not truly know what the experience of having privilege is like for the person who has it.
For example, for many white people facing extreme negative consequences of class-privilege, white-privilege they have is virtually meaningless in comparison — especially when being lectured about white privilege by a wealthy POC.
In my view, all this energy devoted to white-privilege would be better directed at class-privilege. It overwhelmingly impacts the African-American community, who have 1/10th the wealth of white families. And, it should also recruit a larger base of natural allies. White privilege is a convenient tool of the economic elites to keep the poor at odds with each other and sustain the Matthew Effect.