A majority of us black students, including the so-called daughters and sons of the middle class know that as long as you are black, after you get your degree there’s a taxation system that doesn’t go to SARS.

To my privileged friends who have no idea of what I just said, I’m talking about ‘Black tax’.


Anelisa Tuswa Photo: TJ Lemon

Anelisa Tuswa Photo: TJ Lemon

Black tax is not just the money that you send home when you start making a living, it’s not just a set amount that gets debited to your family.  It’s a contribution, possibly unlimited, to better your family until the day you die.

In fact even after death you still need help from your grave thus Clientele Life policy might be the best alternative life policy as they say “your  family members can still be taken care of after you have passed away.”

Well I’m not sure about others, but when I did my first Degree the constant fear was acquiring a qualification that wasn’t going to enable me  the capability to provide. I mean my nephews and niece can’t go to a township school when their aunt is a Wits graduate, that RDP house  won’t extend itself and I’m definitely sure my ancestors would be furious if my late grandmother doesn’t get a tombstone soon (yes the one  who passed away before I was even born).

A friend of mine, who she and the rest of her family are still reaping the gains of the past that were created by societal structures, once asked  me “why do you feel obliged to pay back your parents money?” she asked. “you don’t owe them anything.” It was quite funny. But the funny part rested on the snobbish tone that was driven by an element of reducing black-tax into an obligation, some stupid law where I looked like a victim that is forced to “pay back the money” that contributed to my education.

“Truth is, majority of us black students study because it is exhausting to be poor”

Well let me educate you my uninformed, privileged friends by correcting the basic perception that black tax is an obligation, it’s not an obligation! It is a responsibility that is put upon us Black children who are lucky enough to get better education than other members of our families.

In fact, I am sure many young Black people would agree with me when I say I did not come to university because I liked it on American Pie, nor did I enjoy studying Marx and Weber when I got here. Truth is, majority of us black students study because it is exhausting to be poor, it is an emotional strain that you cannot bear to watch it spread further and paying black tax is a minimum cost that takes half of your salary.

So, when I say ‘I cannot wait to finish my honours and start working’ please do not ask me ‘why a smart woman like me is not studying further.  Every second I spend at Wits my siblings are starving and the RDP house that the ANC built for my mother might fall on my mother’s head, thus in a hurry to finish up and start paying