Why every South African should watch Black Tax
Our writer Siyathemba Ben goes beyond the laughs of this brand-new comedy series about the reality of black tax in South Africa.
BET’s new comedy series, Black Tax, is hilarious – but underneath the humour, there’s a serious subject that affects millions of South Africans. Whether you’re the one expected to pay black tax, or you just see its effects around you, it’s a cultural phenomenon that has a big impact.
In Black Tax, successful real estate agent Thuli Dlamini is given the shock of her life when her mother and stepfather turn up on the doorstep of her townhouse.
What she thought would only be a weekend thing looks like it might turn into forever. Her stepfather dropped a huge bombshell: he lost all his pension money when a certain bank went bankrupt after money was stolen by politicians.
The reality of black tax
Graduating from university has to be one of the most fulfilling achievements in the world. The feeling of starting a new life for yourself and working towards the future you’ve always imagined is unmatched. However, just as you’re dreaming about all the things you can do with your money, reality kicks in and you remember that you have other people depending on you financially. This is black tax and it’s a reality for a lot of young black South Africans.
I have a friend who’s had to take out loans to assist with her siblings’ school fees, while also taking care of her parents. Both her parents are employed, but she’s still expected to hand over a big part of her salary – even if it means she gets into debt.
For another friend, going on holiday or buying a house are just impossible dreams, because her entire family relies on her financially. As much as she’d like to focus on building a life for herself right now, she’s unable to.
I’m very lucky not to be in that situation – I do send money home from time to time, but it’s not expected of me. I do, however, have a few family members who pop out of nowhere to ask for money. A text from an unknown number on the 17th of the month to ask for R6 000, for example. It’s always an emergency, like a sick child, so the guilt is real. I’ll help where I can, but I draw the line when people only remember me when they need cash.
How did we get here?
If you’re wondering how black professionals find themselves in this situation, Thuli Dlamini has the answer, and explained it well to her white male colleague, James, on Black Tax.
When James was a bit confused about why she had to look after some of her family members, she told him: “Our country has a messed up past and the result of that is a lot of young black people taking care of their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, neighbours…”
He couldn’t fully understand black tax because his family wasn’t affected by apartheid and its legacy in the same way, she says. And anyone who still finds themselves struggling to comprehend this part of our culture would do well to watch the series for some insights.
Now it’s all up to Thuli (and her daughter) to accommodate her parents, brother and nephew. Family comes first, right? Is this a burden or is Thuli simply doing the right thing? You can be the judge of that!
One thing South Africans are definitely good at is laughing in the face of adversity, which is what makes this series so relatable and funny. Follow Thuli’s story on Black Tax, coming express to Showmax from BET.