By Nomali Cele
In recent years, a practice that has gone unnamed in most black families has gotten a name. It turns out, the generations-long practice of making sure members of one’s extended family do not starve or that no children within the family miss out of practical things like getting an education is black tax.
This is a hurdle, many cultures in South Africa who haven’t had to play economic catch up in the last twenty-five years, don’t have to deal with.
For Dr Sindi, black tax expectations have led her into debt; all of which stemmed from parental and familial expectations. She believes is comes with having ubuntu, you can’t look at your family struggling and leave them there.
But even with all your best interests at heart and a desire to make sure you pull your family up as you rise, it’s easy for people to take advantage of you. Especially when they don’t show the care and consideration you’d expect family to show.
Jo-Anne Reyneke currently stars on “Black Tax” a sitcom on BET Africa, which chronicles the life and financial obligations of a black woman in her 30s living in Johannesburg. She was the perfect guest to join Dr Sindi on Sidebar With Sindi to talk about the bizarre black tax requests she’s had and how she balances helping family and taking care of herself.
“It’s so clear which family members are helpable,” – Jo-Anne Reyneke on black tax
Things get out of hand and become excessive when family members start to view one person as the go-to for every financial problem. No one person can shoulder that but because they are assisting in order to lift the burden a little from other family members, most people persevere.
Boundaries are paramount. Even if you believe your relatives would never take advantage or exploit you, you still need to set boundaries and practice enforcing them. If the agreement is to help with a specific bill, stand firm in that.
Both Dr Sindi and Jo-Anne Confessed to struggling with their boundaries at times. Speaking of the actions that landed her in debt, Dr Sindi says, “I rarely said no”.
[ON AIR] Whether it is your Aunt asking you to buy her a blanket or Uncle asking you to buy a bottle of whiskey for Easter, what’s the most bizarre black tax request you’ve ever got?
— Kaya 959 Talk (@KayaFMTalk) February 18, 2020
Jo-Anne Reyneke shared that some relatives were hyper-critical of her and how she was assisting her mother. Black tax and the expectation that come with it can be often shrouded in judgement, guilt trips and emotional blackmail.
But with unemployment numbers ever increasing and the economy barely growing, most people can only rely on relatives to ensure they survive to the next month and the next. The question then is how to help your kin along without sacrificing your own needs, immediate family or joy?
Listen below to Afropolitans as they join the conversation