Black tax was not a problem when it took you to school and raised you, now that you have to give back -why has it become a burden?
Urban Dictionary defines Black Tax as “Extra money that black professionals are expected to give every month to support their less fortunate family and extended families”. South African middle class population has been facing discrepancies resulting from the Apartheid Era for a long time. According to The Economist’s Pocket World in Figures, South Africa has the highest rate of unemployment for young people in the world. This means that the black middle class income pool is not developing at all.
As soon as graduates find employment; it’s easy to fall into depression and stress especially if you come from a disadvantaged family background. You have a lot to consider; assisting at home, taking care of your study loan debt and of course the unavoidable “nami ngiya sebenza / Sebenza girl” pressure suffices.
With Festive Season being around the corner – this is one stressful situation young people often regret having to go through. The question is: How do you cope as a young professional when your family is fully dependent on you?
Bridgette Mbonani a 26-year-old mother of one from Soshanguve says: “I wouldn’t call it Black Tax, I would say it’s me providing for my mom and daughter. My mother provided for us when I was at my lowest so I don’t have any negative feelings towards it”.
It has been a long financial struggle for young professionals who are newly employed to keep up with the demands while also expected to take care of themselves.
Although Millennials were born into a period where foundation was laid by the previous generation X, there is a strong overlap of race and class inequalities that still exist today. One would find that in the corporate world, the salary gaps are too far apart despite being the same age, having the same experience and qualifications.
A lot of black people are are underpaid, overworked, depressed, tired and anxious; financial stress is the last thing one would need. Nonetheless, providing support for those who helped you when you unable to help yourself, is a moral act of kindness and humility. It is the right thing to do.
Bridgett who is currently employed at an IT company further added” Once you have negative feelings towards it, you are going to end up resenting the same people you are supposed to assist i.e. your parents and siblings”. She believes there is no point in being bitter about black tax.
Of course there are some struggling family members that reject the assistance. No matter how tough conditions are – they are not comfortable with the idea.
Against all odds, Black tax can be managed and controlled though strict budgeting and planning. TV personality and brand ambassador Nomzano Mbatha has come forward to share her experience. She has partnered with Capitec Bank to offer advice to young professionals who are in the same boat.
Nomzamo said that she used to buy all kinds of things for her 13 nieces and nephews such as toys, school uniforms and stationery and even pay school fees.
“I’ve had to learn that at times its best to say no – which in most black families we’re taught not to say. I try and assist in little ways, but I’ve realised that by not capping the black tax, there’s a risk that some of my family may become fully dependent on me” she said
Other celebrities that have shared their experience include well known comedian Celeste Ntuli, Rapper Emtee and Skeem Saam Actor, Buhle Maseko (Nimza)
So how can we ease the burden?
1. Take care of yourself too
Make sure that you are not suffocating. Make sure your debts are not neglected. Plan and prioritise accordingly.
2. Make friends with fellow black tax payers
Birds of the same feathers have to flock together. Nothing brings you comfort than knowing someone is going through what you are going through. Talk to each other and keep on encouraging one another.
3. Seek assistance where you can
Being a breadwinner does not mean no one can assist you. Find out if there is one who can help with smaller and less expensive duties. For example; daily buying of bread
4. Build Generational wealth
If we start getting into the habit of saving and investing. We are requiring more intensive budgeting and planning of our finances to make a difference. And always remember where you come from: Family contributes significantly to the well-being of each other.