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New Orleans Chef’s Charges White Customers $30, Minorities $12 in Social Experiment

Chef Tunde Way

A New Orleans chef came up with a bold social experiment to shed light on the racial income disparity. Charge white customers more.

Chef Tunde Way, who runs a pop-up shop, Saartj, in New Orleans’ Roux Carre venue, charges $12 for one of his signature Nigerian dishes, but white customers who walk past his counter are offered the same meal for $30 if they choose to pay.

The income gap between white people and African-Americans is “Two-and-a-half times more than the $12 meal, which reflects the income disparity” Wey told NPR.

The median income for African-American households in New Orleans dropped almost 14 percent from $32,332 in 2000 to $27,812 in 2013, while the change for white households was minimal 1.7 percent change from $61,117 to $60,070, according to New Orleans Index at Ten.

White customers are not forced to pay the $18 upcharge and are made aware that they’re being charged more because of the income difference.

Wey says that if white customers pay the $30, the difference in price is redistributed to minority customers who buy from the shop.

“Some of them are enthusiastic, some of them are bamboozled a bit by it,” Wey said. “But the majority of white folks, nearly 80 percent, decided to pay.”

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