I think the concept really only works well in the US. Like WebDudette said, it is a very real thing there. Various factors have conspired throughout the history of the nation in order to make it so. America's melting pot followed a unique recipe. I hadn't really even considered the concept relating to other places before now. As Llamas said, everywhere you go people have a problem with someone. It seems that inequality is a universal trait of humanity. But, as has been pointed out already, it certainly doesn't begin and end at skin colour. People will find reasons to hate. Skin colour provides a nice, obvious distinction to base that hatred on but in the absence of it we'll find something else.
Originally Posted by Alison
You mentioned, very briefly, the concept of wealth and I'm surprised no one else has ran with that yet. Because while racism and bigotry are terrible problems in the world I do not believe anything causes as much inequality and suffering as the divide between rich and poor. In fact, the problem of white privilege in America is, in my opinion, primarily economic. The majority of the wealth has been hoarded by white people. People of colour have intentionally been kept in poverty. Everything else stems from that. Racism has been used to defend, explain, and maintain it but at the core the problem, in my opinion, is not racism but capitalism. It manifests racial symptoms but the disease is capitalism and inherited wealth. Over time the problems have become institutionalized into the very fabric of the nation's culture. To generalize, privilege stems from power and power stems from wealth.
These days I see the term "white male privilege" getting more use than simply "white privilege" and I like that people are recognizing the large role patriarchy plays in the whole thing. Again, that's very much something that applies to the US and I wouldn't necessarily attempt to apply it everywhere else.
It's an awful term. I've seen it used to identify folks who considered themselves to be neither African or American. When I lived in the US I was friendly with a Nigerian guy and I asked him if it annoyed him that people referred to him as "African-American" when he's not American at all. He said that didn't really bother him, but it did annoy him when black Americans referred to themselves as "African-American" when they had never been to Africa, knew nothing about Africa and generally just had no reason to identify with Africa at all. He told me this was a common sentiment amongst actual Africans. Makes sense.
Originally Posted by Llamas
“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.” – Bill Hicks