Let me find out 2018 is starting with a feel-good sisterhood story about strategically leveraging access toward equity and women supporting each other more than being hardwired toward competition.

Acting phenom Octavia Spencer recently shared that a discussion with her acting colleague and friend Jessica Chastain led to fairer contract terms for both women. Spencer recently spoke on a panel with Tina Lifford, Reed Morano, Sandra Oh and Cathy Schulman. Chastain, as a white actress in Hollywood, understood the familiar beast of sexism. She did not know how economically disparate the business is for women of color.

Spencer told her, “But here’s the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than white women. So, if we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of color to the table… And I told her my story, and we talked numbers, and she was quiet, and she said she had no idea that that’s what it was like for women of color.’”

Spencer relayed Chastain’s thinking. “She said, ‘You and I are gonna be tied together. We’re gonna be favored nations, and we’re gonna make the same thing, you are going to make that amount.’ Fast-forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for.”

Sociologically speaking, white women’s politics often tell startling and consistent tales. This is the same society that boasts high levels of white female support for President Donald Trump, had a near-miss in Alabama with Roy Moore and regularly subjects Black women to white women’s coded micro-aggressive attacks. 

And yet, this story displays the possibilities for people who prioritize a deeper understanding of intersectionality. With that understanding, people with situational access, one expression of “privilege,” can assert it on behalf of people they care about—whose bargaining chips look different.

Ideally, we would live in a world that valued people equally. However, until we get there, if more people conceive of collaborative solutions, including looking out for people whose existences include different intersections, all of our opportunities might start looking different too.

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