Updated: May 15
Are you an aspiring entrepreneur or are you eagerly looking to establish your profession or yourself as an individual?.... I would also love to, but unfortunately, we have an unspoken challenge. A phenomenon referred to as the "black tax" - the extra money that black people are expected to give every month to support their less fortunate families and extended families. Not only established entrepreneurs and professionals but also newly employed ones too. It is a tradition highlighted in Trevor Noah's book "Born a Crime" you should give it a read!
The big question is, are we even ready for this conversation? Are we prepared to have it with our families, relatives, and friends? Presumably, the foundation of this culture is traced back to a typical African saying - "It takes a village to raise a child." With this in mind, neighbours or even relatives who ‘contributed’ to our upbringing expect monthly upkeep from a newly employed individual just settling down.
Before we proceed, let’s not get this twisted.... I am not refuting the idea of enjoying the fruits of your labour with those who assisted in raising you, but when does sharing become harmful? Where do we draw the line? We need to determine the equilibrium between being able to sustain ourselves and helping others.
Could the black tax be attributed to the poor saving culture among Africans? To what extent? Sharing what is not appropriately managed can exacerbate the situation. We must, therefore, strategize to increase our source of income, especially for the ‘caregivers’. We must ask ourselves these questions;
How can we improve our finances?
How can we effectively juggle our needs and those of the people who supported us growing up?
If you are looking for ways to change the narrative and break this endless cycle of early family dependency, learn to say "NO," especially if the case is not life-threatening or if you do not deem the request legit or necessary. This is probably the most robust tool to curb this culture and break this endless cycle among Africans.
To ensure that the next generations do not go through the same, we need to learn how to put on our oxygen masks as individuals first, then reach out to help the rest of the community. Moreover, it’s important to teach people how to farm instead of giving them handouts all the time! It’s a choice to save, invest and build wealth so that we are not dependent on our children or our children’s children. Do them a favour by making the right choices today. We should all strive to change the narrative!
Written by Shekila Athman