I have been hearing a lot of people using the word the “black-tax” especially among graduates and varsity students lately since the description of the word by Mail & Guardian writer Mosibudi Ratlebjane. Although this term is a legitimate term and portrays the right image of the hardships faced by young black graduates and the degree to which black people are indebted. Let’s agree with the truth carried by this term and the feeling around it, but there are questions around this term namely; why it is referred to as a “tax”in instead of a responsibility for young black graduates (the structure of the term), we have to bear in mind when answering these questions what constitutes tax and how is this black responsibility a form of tax. Another question that we have to ask is how does this “black tax” come into effect and why is it only in the context of black people.
As pointed out above the question is structural first and a historical one, for the purposes of the discussion let’s start with the historical question, how does “black tax”come into effect? In the context of South Africa we all know that the settlers came for black people in 1652 and imposed violent techniques to subjugated and take the means of production from the black hands to the white hands. We all know that the 1913 Land Act that left native areas with less than 10% of the entire land mass of the Union of South Africa, later expanded to 13%. We understand the effects of apartheid that deepened racial and economic inequalities, the outcomes of the negotiations of the post-democratic South Africa that also left the black people still impoverished and landless.
These are the causes of this well populated term that puts black people as seen by Frantz Fanon that the colonist is not content with making the colonized hate themselves he turns them to see themselves as the exact reflection of the devils. i would not like to call this responsibility that has been imposed on us black people a “black tax” on the above basis, one must understand that when we start to put it in the form of a tax and not articulate clearly its transcendence into the black reality we will find ourselves in feuds with another and not understanding why. Black tax (as commonly known), like xenophobia, is induced by historical dispossession and systemic racism of the black majority in South Africa, and it therefore cannot take the form of a tax by black people themselves because i am very careful in using terms that may lead to divisions in the black family, it can take the form of a responsibility that black children have within the family setting.
To the structural questions namely; Why refer to it as tax? What constitute tax? How is the so-called “black tax” in reality a form of tax? Tax as commonly understood is defined as a financial charge or other levy “imposed” upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or the functional equivalent of a state to fund various public expenditures. A failure to pay, or evasion of or resistance to taxation, is usually punishable by law. It is clear from the definition that the charge that constitute tax is “imposed” upon a particular person and not out of the conscience of that being, because in the setting of the black family there is not imposed levy but it is out of the conscience of that person to give back and assist where you can. There is even an IsiXhosa saying back home where i come from eNcerha that “Asifuni mali mntanam sifuna nje ubona wena” which means that our parents love us no matter if we do give them money or not as long as we assist where we can out of our conscience.
From this above finding and interrogation one finds that the black people are not aware of such a tax (and yes I am speaking for all black people and for those who have accepted the term), the black people are a marginalized people and because of that they can only depend on those people that have jobs as it is not common that every people work in one family, therefore one must take careful considerations when articulating the black problem, because t draws its form not from black people themselves but an outsider who imposed himself on us, stripped and subjugated the black nation.