A Black chef and restaurant owner in New Orleans charges Black customers less than White patrons, reports Black Enterprise magazine. Chef Tunde Wey, a Nigerian born restaurant owner of Saartj, a lunch counter at the Roux Carre Center, grew his hot spot in a very short of amount of time. One of the things that makes him stand out is that he often charges white patrons as much as $30 for a meal – and most of them pay it – while he only charges Black folk about $12 for the same meal. “When I tell Black folks what’s happening, 90 percent of them start laughing, like ‘For real?’ They’re tickled,” Wey told the Washington Post.
“White folks, there’s this blank look. They’re like ‘Huh? OK.’” In New Orleans, the median income among African American households is $25,806, compared to $64,377 for White households, says the Urban Institute, reports Black Enterprise. Nationally, the average wealthy Black family makes $140,000 while White families make $919,000. Wey told the Post that he shares those statistics with his customers and then tells them the price of their lunch. He said he expected few white people to pay the $30 for his Nigerian food, but Wey said more than 80 percent of his White customers opt to pay the higher price. Wey found that Black people typically said no when asked if they wanted a refund while some even tried to pay $30 instead of $12 because “they felt obligated to pay the higher price.”
Wey added, “If I created the framework where I outline a problem that is indisputable, and I position you as an antagonist, and I give you a way to solve the problem tidily and be the hero — in the moment, anything other than the $30 choice becomes antisocial behavior.” Saartj is named after Saartjie Baartman, a Black South African woman who, due to her large buttocks, was exhibited as a freak show attraction in 19th century Europe and nicknamed “Hottentot Venus.” He said he designed the New Orleans social experiment to study people’s reactions to it. He enlisted a researcher from Tulane University, who “devised an exit interview” that allowed Wey to understand people’s reasoning behind the amount they chose to pay. Wey said he will donate profits from his “social experiment” to Black people who need help in the area.