In addition to her Oscar speech, which called for gender equality in pay, actress Patricia Arquette showed her lack of understanding of intersectional issues backstage. She demanded that gay and people of colour pay “women” back for all the work “women” do to advocate for equality. The problem is, of course, that not only was a privileged White woman asking oppressed groups to fight for her rights, but Arquette’s remarks also show her lack of awareness that women of colour and transgender women are women too. When Arquette was crying for wage equality, she meant for White women, not all women. When she demands that gay and people of colour fight for White women, she does not understand how sexism, homophobia, transphobia, class and other issues impact on the wage gap.
Professor Brittney Cooper notes that on top of wage inequality and systemic racism and sexism, women of colour also do other forms of unpaid labour – by continually being forced to educate White women about social justice.
“Some of my academic colleagues of colour call this ‘the Black or people of colour tax’ — the extra, and often unacknowledged labour, time and resources we give to institutions, that our white colleagues don’t have to do and for which we are uncompensated, in order to help struggling students of colour navigate our institutions and insure diversity at the levels of faculty and administration.”
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