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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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.