"I've written a little about the history of the term. It comes out of some groups that split off from the Communist Party in the '50s, and really came to prominence in the '60s. Its primary architects were Theodore Allen and Noel Ignatiev, and they called it 'white skin privilege.' The idea of white skin privilege was that white workers had been bribed. The American ruling class, especially the Southern planter class dating all the way back to the 17th century, had bribed white workers with greater social status and privileges so they would not unite with black workers—from enslaved workers in the 17th century to super-exploited black wage workers in the '50s, '60s, and '70s—and pose a challenge to the ruling class.
"The idea was that white skin privilege was actually harmful to white people, because despite the fact that they were granted some advantages over black people, they ended up even more entrenched in their condition of exploitation precisely by accepting these advantages. As a result, they did not build a movement across racial boundaries to fight their common oppression. The fact that the idea of white privilege is used today to show why we can't possibly unify—that's a reversal of the core idea."
Kelton Sears in Seattle Weekly interviews Asad Haider.