Dealing with burden of ‘black tax’

Sharon Hofisi Legal Letters
What could you do with your income and a willingness to look after immediate and extended family? This is the usual concern for those who regularly share their incomes with their family members, dependants and relative friends.

Whether you are godparent or real relative, some people are armed with a “what-else-can-I-do” spirit. The proof of life is that they have purposed in their hearts that it’s their responsibility to help empower family members ensnared in financial depression or are wallowing in abject poverty.

The proof of black life is that some family members are simply carefree with lives. Others live purple lives, but simply forget to purple those who helped to purple their lives, parents included. Journey through any black family’s complaints and you will certainly extract bounds of feelings of resentment, struggles to break away from the shackles of poverty and the general will to be emancipated and empowered in some heaven-knows-the-way.

The lack of financial discipline or intelligence is often blamed on the need to maintain a “certain status”, which usually burdens one family member even to the point of testing his or her will to the limit. This is highly reflective of how such member must innovate about empowering his or her family members circle of dependants if he or she is to end his black tax burdens.

Through education and a paltry salary, one relative uses his income to better the lives of siblings and other relatives.
If resources permit, the member develops the life-skills of his community members and ends up building a community of game changers. If funds permit, the family member may work with political actors and development partners to design empowerment projects that create many agents of positive social change in a community.

Thousands of people have become agents of social change through assistance from innovative individuals, scholarship trusts and business philanthropists. Tens of thousands of black families still look forward to a future free from financial dependency and depressing debt burdens.

Most black families focus on being poor, vulnerable and marginalised and forget to better their lives. We might be poor, but clean, vulnerable, but strong-willed, marginalised, but innovative. We believe in social coherence and family unity and through this, many of us who are between rocks and hard places can be encouraged to build their lives in amazing ways.

How do we navigate the burdens of black tax when we have several financial burdens and other State-oriented taxes to pay; rental bills to settle, school fees for our children and other work-related expenses to pay.

Let’s design financial plans. Financial depression is so often a family breaker. Others hide behind the nuclear family defensive block. All this leaves the seemingly empowered relative feeling isolated and desperate to find ways to break the rules about family unity.

Because poverty is the most pressing issue ravaging black communities and one that less developed countries have been slow if not reluctant to deal with, family members must be open with each other about issues of financial probity, financial projects and benefits of self-help projects.

Parents must build children through involving them in family businesses or encouraging them to contribute or participate in projects which generate income. Till when will we focus on hand-to-mouth projects?

We need to work with relationship and financial coaches, project managers, psychologists, and social workers to relay financial intelligence to our families. Welfare organisations and community-based organisations must encourage community members to think beyond poverty.

When I look at it, we need to focus on knowledge-based approach to building families. We must start small, but think big when creating our family and generational wealth. We need to build hubs of community excellence.

Every black person must focus on building a legacy for his various forms of family set-ups. We need to work together to train our family members to be responsible with their finances. We must also focus on making sure that socio-economic rights and specific group rights in our constitution are enjoyed by both the rural and urban communities.

The State, as the primary duty holder must look into multiple licensing issues when dealing with rural communities. When I look at prohibitive fees to set up a general dealer’s shop at a rural business centre, something damages my heart.

These fees create cycles of dependency even for persons who want to move away from a sole trader or community farmer to a shop owner at a business centre.

When it comes to eradicating the burdens of black tax, we must know that black children have always been regarded as signs of wealth or social virility and as insurance policies for their parents in times of their old age or other incapacities.

Ending sibling rivalry must be at the core of family engagements. When siblings contribute to the family’s financial pool, goodness becomes the only investment that can surely end the burden of black tax.

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