Urban dictionary defines black tax as the extra money that middle class black people are expected to give every month to support their less fortunate or less accomplished family, even to the detriment of their own household. It is also defined as, the notion that black people have to work and perform regular tasks twice as well as white people. While these are the most common definitions of the term, there are other ways this tax is taken.
The generational conditioning of accepting the black tax as a way of life is rampant through my family. My taxer indoctrinated me into this concept well before I was old enough, or conscious of the impact it would have on my life. It was ingrained in me, as I assume it was ingrained in everyone paying it, through guilt and emotional manipulation.
As the oldest of four, my mother heavily relied on me to help her raise my younger brothers. I was responsible for every aspect of their lives from the time they woke up to the time they went to sleep. The only thing I was not responsible for was going to work to make the money to feed and shelter them, though I truly believe that had there been no child labor laws, that would have been my responsibility too. Effectively, I became their second parent because their father was either too drunk or high to be reliable and my mother worked night shifts. I remember feeling like I had been given a raw deal. While my classmates were talking about the things they were going to do after school or on weekends, having sleepovers and doing things kids did, I was figuring out what to go home and cook, how many loads of laundry I’d be able to get through before I had to be in bed, and worrying about the grades my brothers would bring home.
What I didn’t know then, was that I was being taxed for being the eldest.
Since I had no money, I paid this tax by missing out on things like school field trips, high school dances, prom, and even my graduation. I grew angry, resentful, and borderline belligerent. I paid the black tax with my childhood and I was done, or so I thought.
I left home around sixteen in an attempt to escape my fate. I moved out of my small town and into the city. I changed my phone number and was hell bent on creating a new life for myself. One where I could finally enjoy the fruits of my labors and be allowed to live my life for myself. Oh how naive of me to think that simply leaving the nest would solve the prob;e. But you see, black tax doesn’t care where you move, it’s always right there.
To date I have spent a total of fourteen years paying the black tax and it looks like the collector will never miss my door.
My taxer was brilliant in her conditioning. I was raised to believe that I was put here for one purpose and one purpose only. To better the lives of my family. I never felt like I was put on this earth to enjoy a life for myself. This lesson was not taught to me directly or using those words though. It was taught to me subconsciously, through emotional manipulation, fear tactics, and passive aggressive statements like “You wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for me” and “If you don’t do…. for ….. I won’t provide the necessities you need to live”. Probably why I’m battling depression and anxiety. I desperately want to break free of the invisible chains tying me to the idea that I am solely responsible for the successes or failures of my younger siblings and parents.
Why is it that in some black families the person who does what is necessary to put themselves in a better position in life ends up being the one tasked with helping the other members achieve the same? We don’t like the fact that we get the black tax in the workplace and on goods and services yet we have no problem imposing it on each other.
For me, I decided early on that I wanted different than what I grew up around. I wanted to go places and see things.
I wanted to do more than wait every week for the next check to come in so that I could live, but were has that gotten me?
As a dutiful payer of the black tax, it has gotten me in debt. It has put me firmly in the place I didn’t want to be, waiting on payday every week to try to live as much of a life as I can after I pay my taxes.
Have you escaped the black tax? Are you still paying it? What are your thoughts on the tax?
I look forward to reading your comments down below.
Until next time…
Don’t judge me, you don’t know my life!!