The Black Tax & Its Ensuing Black Fatigue

Asha Tarry, Life Coach

Black fatigue and rest; seems oxymoronic to most Black Americans doesn’t it? Some people may say it’s because of the “black tax” on African-Americans, Caribbean and Afro-Latinx people who show up every day at work, school, within their families and for their friends while working among people who talk about race relations in insensitive ways; or feel compelled to bear the burden of “speaking for everyone Black” when something happens in the media that highlights the inequities of Black life; or the countless times we hold our breath while Black people work in non-diverse places that posit talk about DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), but don’t actually have a DEI narrative, commitment to seeking, interviewing or hiring practice for the innumerable qualified Blacks for upper management positions. There’s little relief from the mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion that comes with living while Black. And if anyone is interested– white, Black or someone of a different race– in empathizing or ensuring that non-racist thinking becomes anti-racist practices take a moment to read the list of things that cause the persistent lethargy experienced by Black people who are living and still thriving at times while Black, and at the same time sometimes disinterested in the things that the world believes we should focus on. After you read this list read it again, and then again. Then, tell someone like you and tell several people unlike you (in race, ethnicity, and status) to read this list slowly and imagine life like this every day if you can. Afterwards, read Layla F. Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy” for active and conscious ways to unpack and dismantle systemic cultural, historical, interpersonal, and persistent institutional racism.

5 Reasons Black People Are Persistently Exhausted:

      1. Overworking during a pandemic, and then having to make tough decisions between practicing safety precautions while also grieving the loss of normalcy, income, health and loved ones, and still having to keep going– going to work, school, or both, while also taking care of others—mentally, financially, emotionally, and physically.

      2. Living in a racist, hostile, misogynist world pre-pandemic, and during a pandemic while simultaneously experiencing persistent secondary trauma also known as vicarious trauma (2nd-hand trauma through indirectly witnessing or experiencing a traumatic experience).

      3. Being one of the most consistently under-employed and unemployed groups of people with lower rates of re-employment than any other group before and during a world financial crisis.

      4. Working, living, playing, and engaging in dominant communities in which Black people are policed and threatened to have the police called on us for consistently being in “the wrong place” such as parks, college lounges, parking lots, gated communities, airports, airplanes and high end and low-end stores shopping.

      5. Maintaining employment while Black and then returning each day to work while experiencing harassment, being followed, tased, and murdered in public and private spaces, exposed to political coups, experiencing natural devastation, induced with what some folks may call propaganda for immunizations, and then return to work, and have our exhaustion questioned, mystified, unacknowledged and ignored.

This is a minimal list. But it’s a glimpse into some of the social-emotional challenges that a black tax cost Blacks, globally. The short-term reprieves such as a vacation or sabbatical provide temporary relief. We need lasting solutions and work/life schedules that will break the cycle of burnout, including structural metamorphosis of the many places and entities that are considered foundational to American life.

I have one request of you my Village, whether you are Black, Brown or white and that is this—after you read this blog ask your Black friends, family, and colleagues how they’re feeling lately and be patient, considerate and compassionate enough to listen or wait until they can come to their own understanding of it. Then, return with an authentic interest in what ways you can support them to receive some relief, even if it’s just momentarily. It may be that you give them space on days when they don’t feel like talking. Or maybe you confront instead of avoid asking them if there’s anything you can offer them on a day following another public lynching. Read books on the black tax, the intersections of blackness, women’s history, racism, economics, health and life for Black people in the United States and around the world. Here’s a book I’ve recently fallen in like with that I highly recommend for you to read—“Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body and Spirit” by Mary-Frances Winters.

Until next time Village,



*This blog is about becoming free. It’s a reflection of introspective thoughts and experiences that have crossed miles of self-discovery. I created this blog to inspire others to live life with less self-criticism, judgment and openness to new experiences. May you find that you learn how to live a life by design and on your own terms!*

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