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Your thoughts on the "Respectability Tax"

Ok, so we made up a term. But it totally makes sense. Here's what social media had to say about the "Respectability Tax": The things minorities feel they have to do to PROVE they are middle class.


  1. Some of the "respectability tax" pressure might be the sound of our mothers' nagging voices echoing in our heads: "If you don't wear [fill in the blank], other people will assume [fill in the blank]." It might also depend on where we are and who we're with -- for example, there are a lot of people visiting San Diego this week who are getting respect by dressing like aliens. :)
  2. I understand this tax exists. I've heard it and seen it. My buddy's spouse wanted to get a nice compact car that would meet her needs but he persuaded her to get a foreign luxury car. The reason being that at a company if you're trying to move up you want people to perceive you as someone who appreciates "the finer things" in life.I personally do not pay any respectability taxes that I'm aware of unless wearing business casual to work is one. I feel like I'm more meeting the company's minimum dress code.Personally I do try to resist paying any of these taxes. I want to retire early after all!
  3. when I ride my bike in certain areas, I hear the electric car door locks *thunk* - and I'm the one should be afraid of robbery!
  4. This is absolutely true. I'm an attorney and am blessed to enjoy an upper middle class lifestyle. Within our home, there are certain phrases that my daughter and I use, but I'm thoughtful that we don't speak that way in public. Because I was raised in a very diverse city, and attended Stanford for college, I'm well accustomed to people of color who are bright and accomplished. But, I've realized that an unfortunately significant number of people don't know anyone like me. So, I'm thoughtful about presenting that the stereotype of Black women is not the only (and is often an unfair) depiction of who we are.
  5. Absolutely I think so. While I don't have to dress perfect as you described I do feel as if everything the is expected of a good member of society must be amplified in order to prove my middle class. My grammar has to be spot on, my knowledge on current events updated daily, my child's academic and athletic ability, all of these things have to be met. I feel as if you have to prove your the anti stereotype.
  6. It's the art of managing expectations that is present in all relationships/social interactions. With respect to race, I often feel like I'm being pressured to walk a tightrope of 'too black' versus 'not black enough'.