It’s time we admit that being black in South Africa is more of an occupation than mere skin pigment; writes Mbali Sibiya.
Black people work so hard, in everything they do, and the job is twice as hard for black millennials. Young, vibrant and full of aspiration, but victim to societies harsh realities; black youth must go beyond their means to satisfy family, friends/colleagues and employers. I wonder where this indebtedness stems from. Black youth is taxed! Not once, not twice but in three different ways.
This fancy term “Black tax” does not entail a compulsory governmental deduction, rather, a compulsory deduction from – and by – a black person’s close and extended family. Yes, in some cases even the society one grew up in feels entitled.
At first I assumed of it as an act of Ubuntu- the spirit of sharing and communism; recognising the ones who have helped you in times of need and being provocative of the gesture. But let’s be real, is it still Ubuntu when folks demand and claim entitlement over your success and achievements merely because “they’ve been around you since you were young”? I then realised that we’re faced with a bigger problem outside people asserting themselves to others’ assets.
The problem is, black tax is birthed by the devil colonisation; a burden a black person is bound to carry. The same burden that was supposedly buried alongside a dompas. It ages back and it makes sense. The reason old black people, to be specific, go beyond their means to invest into their children’s education and “hustle” is because they firstly, see a bright future in them, they see hope. Secondly, they never had the opportunities which are present today. Basically, they want their children to achieve what they couldn’t.
This opened my eyes to seeing that this is a pattern, it’s a chain. Think of it this way; it requires all it’s pieces strategically put together in order for it to be a complete puzzle, but with missing pieces, it’s impossible and hence requires one to spend his or her lifetime trying to get the missing pieces. Do you know what this does, it strips a person from getting new pieces to a new puzzle. In reality, a black child goes to University to acquire an education with dreams of being a success and affording his/her luxuries, but those aspirations crumble once realising that all along he/she had responsibilities awaiting. Responsibilities that include paying the bills, feeding and sending siblings to school; entailing that the aspirations one has, ought to be placed on hold in order to put together missing pieces (provide what the family lacks). Talk about working backwards!
A Black child is born into responsibilities. Imagine having three kinds of deductions from three different parties while on your first job. Earning plus-minus 20k and spending approximately one thousand on income tax, providing for the family and settling NSFAS for the three or four years you spent at University. I will never understand the logic behind borrowing money to pay for money you borrowed. But as a black child, I don’t need to understand it, I will experience it as by my “fate”, as a black child.
Money seldom stays in, it often goes out and for this reason; Blacks will remain crippled and impoverished, they will remain workers who work to settle debts, get into more debt – not one’s with life savings. So this just shows how the Black race has been mentally and financially oppressed, with all this power that they have, they will continue to ensure that poverty and struggle is inheritable and inevitable in all Black generations. They continue to exploit black people.
We can attribute black tax to Ubuntu, showing gratitude to the ones that have been with you from day one or view it as a result of the past injustices that haunt Black people (which most definitely is) and never cease to cripple parents, their children and their children’s’ children like a chain. However, something has got to give – this chain must break.
Mbali Sibiya (@Mbals_Sibiya) is a corporate communications student with public speaking experience and a passion for words.