Wealth disparity is a big issue in the United States with the top 1% of US Citizens holding about 38% of the country's resources.
The bottom 90% of Americans also own 73% of the country's debt. Something's not right.
That being said, there are some people who definitely enjoy greater levels of privilege thanks to getting a great economic boost early on life. My family is by no means well off, but growing up, I was able to borrow a few hundred dollars from my dad if my car needed repairs before pay day, have a co-signer for student loans (which, in hindsight, was a total waste), getting rides to a job interview if I was in a jam, etc. Even with the little my family had, I had a bit of a extra help that lots of other people don't have access to.
But if you're not aware of the extra help that's been made available to you, it's easy to take it for granted. Which is probably how this New Orleans pop-up restaurant came up with the idea to charge white customers $18 more a plate as part of an experiment on racial-based wealth disparity.
Meals at the pop-up cost $12 a buck, but when a white customer is getting ready to pay, they're asked if they want to fork over $30 for a meal instead.
Interesting social experiment @RouxCarre here in NOLA. Chef @detroitbfd “...asked white customers to pay extra for their meal in the name of wealth redistribution.” @TulaneSPHTM #nutrition and #foodsecurity students assisted with the project as well as others. https://t.co/uL1vewWrAA— Jyl Sheats, PhD (@JylSheatsPhD) March 3, 2018
Even the moniker of the restaurant has socio-political undertones, it's named after Saartjie, a woman who was once ridiculed for her skin color and used as entertainment for whites in Europe.
If you're wondering where the $30 price tag comes from, the owner of the pop-up restaurant based the meal costs on the median household incomes for New Orleans residents.
Black families, on average, earn less than half of white families in the city.
The restaurant also plays with the concept of wealth redistribution by not just pocketing the $18 extra paid by white customers.
Black patrons have the option of taking the extra $18 a white customer pays for their meal.
According to Civil Eats, the pop-up called Saartj gives white customers— Tim Gradous (@tgradous) March 2, 2018
— the option to pay the suggested price of💲30" while black customers are "charged💲12 & also given the option to collect💲18 paid by a white patron as a way
to “redistribute wealth." https://t.co/kJYxy2UxhG
Saartj collected data in an effort to gauge people's responses to the wealth disparity in their city, and as it turns out, there weren't many diners looking to get a free meal and $6.
In fact, many black diners even opted to pay the $30 for their meals at Saartj.
FYI ‘76% of the Black diners refused to take the $18 that they were offered. Black people have even tried to pay the $30’— 🍎🍎🍎ᗩᑭᑭᒪE ᑭIE🍎🍎🍎 (@MagaApplePie) March 6, 2018
80% of white customers paid the $30 "wealth distribution fee" too, which suggests that Chef Tunde Way got plenty of people thinking about the way wealth is distributed among different racial groups.
There were tons of people praising Way's political statement.
Someone give Chef Tunde Way a Noble Prize! Radical...yes, but necessary in our political climate! New Orleans Chef’s Charges White Customers $30, Minorities $12 in Social Experiment. “Majority of white folks, nearly 80 percent, decided to pay.” -- https://t.co/rDnaPRQGSa pic.twitter.com/ap97PiwqBA— EBONY MAGAZINE (@EBONYMag) March 8, 2018
Although there were some who took Saartj's pricing structure a bit too literally...
To all liberals seeing tweet, this is what the democrat party supports, a Democratic plantation of wealth distribution. Wouldn’t you, regardless of race, prefer to earn what you make based on your own merit without having to dole it to others? Do you really want handouts?— 🍎🍎🍎ᗩᑭᑭᒪE ᑭIE🍎🍎🍎 (@MagaApplePie) March 8, 2018
Others understood that it was meant to get people thinking about which groups hold which percentage of money in the US.
One may argue that charging people $12 for food from a cart is attracting only a certain demographic for the study. If you're earning $25k a year, you're probably not dropping $12 on a prepared lunch that isn't a special occasion. Just saying.
But it's hard to deny that Way did indeed get a conversation started on wealth in America.
By demographics, a black person is almost 3 times more likely to poor than a white person, in the US.— "Robert's just this guy, you know..." Watkins (@twasink) March 5, 2018
By sheer numbers, though, there are nearly twice as many poor white people than poor black people, in the US. https://t.co/TtobdMVSQr
I can appreciate Chef Tunde Way’s idea for bringing this to the attention of those who ate at his establishment. It helps to understand and learn about life and the struggles that people endure.— Bill Cain (@WRCOldMedicDoc) March 4, 2018
Way isn't the only one out there using food to get people thinking about those who are less fortunate than others. Rosa's pizzeria in Philadelphia lets you "pay it forward" by buying a slice for a homeless person.
Business is booming as a result and hungry people are able to get something to eat. It's incredible.