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Chasing the white picket fence was the dream, however in all honesty the grass is not always greener on the other side. In reality the white picket fence was just one disheveled fixer upper, in need of some TLC. The heart wrenching cracks stripping the paint of the walls, the dilapidated walls, screaming for redemption and vibrating echoes of hunger. Cleansed by the cries to the ancestors, for seeds of prosperity. With my feet embracing the corridors of history, the white picket fence reminds me that reaching the top requires, backtracking in a Zola Budd, for those who have paved the way for my success.

I’m one of those individuals who hustled their way through varsity. Holding down a full time job while attending evening classes. I had no intention of playing the note of seduction for a blesser or marrying my way out, of this valley of poverty. What I did however, was work my way out of this dusty street of the ‘have not’ to the white picket fence by the Jones and every day I realized how sweeter life would have been with a trust fund. Being groomed for a family business, an uncle with connections, keys to a car, or a house by the sea side. I would have been, ‘privileged’, a contrast to the aura of black tax.

Black tax is that cloud that hangs over our heads while sipping a glass of red surrounded by picturesque mountain views. It reminds us of our past, as we sail the seas of success and it’s that hustling mentality that fires us up, all because we simply fear the Mandela’s slipping through our fingers. The fear of seeing ourselves crawling back to our parent’s nest, masked with shame. Black tax reminds us of the road we’ve traveled and it reassures us that history can’t be repeated.

Some of us are not privileged which means the first pay check has already been budgeted for, by our parents; sister needs shoes, brothers fees have to be paid, mommy has church commitments to sort out, dad’s car has broken down or the plumbing needs to be fixed. Black tax hangs over our heads like a dark cloud and follows us like a shadow.

Don’t get me wrong black tax is gruesome, taxing but therapeutic. It means climbing the ladder of self and success with those who have selflessly sacrificed for our achievement. It entails acknowledging their hand, as we build our family empire. Majority of us were raised by single parents, mommy the unpaid housewife, who’s never held down a job and when hubby walks out she looks to her kids for sustenance. Or how about mommy selling fat cakes on corner crescent to pay for schooling. I’ve played a role in that script and in so doing realized the power of education. It dawned on me that wearing that black cloak is not about ‘me’ but rather about ‘us’, like my dad who never graduated said, ‘ your qualification, is my qualification.’ Hence it is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves, and in so doing we iron these creases of dependency and promote financial emancipation, which signifies the importance of chiseling our own destiny.

However this is a narrative, those who are privileged fail to comprehend, the reality that by the time some of us graduate we faced with mountains of commitments. Hence we forfeit the first car, the travelling and shopping sprees. As a result don’t be alarmed when upon receiving that paper, I cancel on party time. The truth is, by the time siblings tuition fees are paid, there’s still NSF and student loans to figure out. Then baby comes along and baby daddy does the runner.

This condo maybe a fixer upper however I intend throwing some paint and pruning the bushes one step at a time. The cycle has to end eventually however adding some color on this picket fence requires a certain measure of investment. Bridging this gap entails some ounce of sacrifice, as a result the kids will be raised by granny dearest as I climb the ladder of success for and with family. It is the words of Confucius that remind me that, I should have, the will to win, the desire to succeed and the urge to reach my full potential as the tools to fight this battle of social inequalities. Bridging this gap starts with us, and as we pave the path for the millennials let us remember that social empowerment is rarely about me or you but rather about ‘us’ as a collective. let us preach the importance of education and in so doing foster a generation driven by tenacity and the will to succeed, generation who dare to break the norm and strive for the impossible.

 

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