Gabrielle Union sparked conversation on social media when a clip from an interview with the Idea Generation Podcast went viral. She went on to share that she and her husband Dwyane Wade split bills 50/50 which has been an ongoing discussion around dating and modern gender roles between couples. While social media fixated on whether or not it was necessary for the multimillionaire couple to split bills, nuance from the clip was lost in all the uproar around the incredible demands of things like the “Black tax,” financial trauma and money scripts.
The Black Tax
Union mentions that she and her husband have to support other households outside of their marriage, which puts pressure on her to get up and work constantly. She alludes to guilt or pressure that doesn’t allow her to sleep in because of her worry that “somebody might not eat.”
When considering a concept like the Black tax, where successful Black individuals support members of their immediate and extended family financially, some might feel as though Union’s revelation of her feelings is a poor attempt to relate to the less wealthy general public. It would seem however that the more money people make, the more they have to give away in support of others from the outside looking in.
The delicate balance between giving back to your community financially and establishing boundaries is difficult to strike at any income level. But the financial stress of knowing your actions and choices can impact people you care about, and their ability to eat or live a quality life, is a pressure many may not understand unless they were in the position themselves. This financial stress can cause or trigger trauma on both ends of the exchange should something like job loss, burnout, or some other means of income interruption occur.
Financial trauma can be described as any instance observed or experienced that has a negative impact on the way someone views, interacts with, or believes about money.
In the interview, Union mentions that she still struggles with feeling financially secure because she has more responsibilities for her money. She specifically acknowledges that anxiety and a scarcity mindset are things she has to work against letting be her engine and that it’s hard to do. This speaks to the idea that no amount of money will resolve psychological issues that come from scarcity, or a survival mindset and work has to be done in addition to increases in income to continuously recognize and embrace abundance.
Money scripts describe your unconscious beliefs about your finances and can be traced back to childhood. They are broken down into four main categories of which an individual may relate to one or two more than the others. Those scripts are: money avoidance, money status, money worship and money vigilance.
When Union describes the pressure she and her husband have to support multiple households financially she mentions that within their household they split everything 50/50 but then goes on to describe feelings of having to work hard to “hold everybody up” and that it’s hard to let that go.
Although the Black tax was mentioned earlier, some of those feelings can be associated with internal scripts like money worship, characterized by the belief that if you had more money, things would be better, or money vigilance, characterized by constant watchfulness or anxiety relating to money. The actress’ challenges are not foreign to everyday people and can be addressed by learning how to set and stick to appropriate boundaries, and working with a financial therapist, financial counselor, or qualified financial coach who focuses on the money mindset and improving your relationship with money.
It is commonly mistaken that those with high incomes are immune to the impacts of financial trauma and a scarcity mindset. Union demonstrates that even in the multiple millions, these issues don’t just go away—in some cases, they get worse.
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