White Customers Are Being Asked to Pay More at a NOLA Food Stall
Over the past month, Nigerian chef Tunde Wey has been running Saartj, a pop-up in New Orleans where plates like sweet potato and plantain stew with eggplant and roast peppers will cost you $12. That is, unless you identify as white. Instead, you'll be asked to pay $30 for your meal—a reflection of the income disparity between African American and white households in New Orleans.
"Some of them are enthusiastic, some of them are bamboozled a bit by it," Wey tells NPR of his social experiment. NPR also adds that over the course of 13 years, the median income of black households in the area has fallen drastically, while white households have seen their income stay virtually the same, resulting in a 54 percent inequality gap.
"It's two and a half times more than the $12 meal, which reflects the income disparity," Wey continues. "But the majority of white folks, nearly 80 percent, decided to pay."
That extra money given to Wey is then redistributed to the minorities who purchase food at the stall. "We think of this as a systemic issue . . . when in fact the aggregate sum of all our actions and choices exacerbates or ameliorates the wealth gap," he concludes.
Though their time in New Orleans has since ended, both Saartj and Wey will head to Detroit at the end of April for another weeklong pop-up, where the "cost, menu and experience are tailored to your privilege."
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