America is known as the land of opportunity.
But while that statement holds some truth, most of us know for a fact that this is still a country very much divided as racism, wealth disparity and violence are all still big problems all throughout United States.
Regardless of our differences in a multi-cultural society, there are a handful of individuals who still create ways to come together and look past all of that. Whether it’s through music, sports, or healthy debates, we still strive as a collective society to push for a more harmonious culture.
Nigerian food truck owner and chef, Tunde Wey, is playing his role perfectly.
Through food, Wey is able to shine the light on the racial economic divide in the U.S.
If you are White and you stumble across Wey’s food truck, you have the option to either pay $12 or $30 for a plate of food, while on the other hand, people of color are only obligated to pay $12 for a plate.
Seems fair right? Wey was recently in New Orleans when he was conducting his social experiment. If you don’t think it’s fair, Wey will be quick to put you on game.
The average income for African-American families in the “Big Easy” is $25,806.
On the contrary, the median income for white families is $64,377. He’ll also let you know that the national average income of white families compared to black families is $919,000 to $140,000. Sheesh.
Wey is trying to right the ship. Every plate is $12. Out of the $30 that is spent on the food, Wey gives $18 directly to any minority customer who wants it.
“When I tell black folks what’s happening, 90 percent of them start laughing, like, ‘For real?’ They’re tickled. White folks, there’s this blank — blank look. They’re like, ‘Huh, okay.'”
As the customers eat their comfort food, Wey engages them with some discomfortable table topics. You can expect to discuss police brutality, racism, sexism, wealth distribution and any other pressing issues the chef might want to indulge in.
While minorities find his social experiment as a relief, Wey said White’s felt uneasy about the situation.
“White folks or privileged folks are quick to try to find a solution, or ask for a solution, as opposed to sitting in the discomfort,”
Nevertheless, this is nothing new for Wey. Since 2014, he’s been traveling the U.S. serving his Nigerian delicacies to food lovers alike. Touring around the country on a Greyhound bus, Wey made a name for himself at pop-ups throughout the biggest cities.
Now, Wey has his own website where you can see what city he will be in next. There is also a full menu and he explains his reasoning, tailoring his service to your privilege.
there’s a generation of young nigerians my age, more weary than millennial, disconnected in body from the place we were born but we carry it in our chests– even if we don’t admit it. it’s why we cloister about each other, and hold on to old slangs from secondary school. it’s why we celebrate each other; protect ourselves against the negative stereotypes with codes (handshakes that break into finger snaps and belly laughs at inside jokes that don’t require an elaborate backstory or an american accent to deliver). it’s why we cook, because the smell of palm oil, crayfish and onions has been painted into the roof of our nostrils. it’s why we blink furiously, because the sand from this place which exists in memory and real time is stuck in our eye. it’s why we cook– we all cook: stew, rice, dodo. even meat pie, puff puff, efo. of course jollof, fried rice. but we’re also afraid of… nigeria. scared of going back to the sand that is not allegorical. and the sand flies that bite and the mosquitoes that rob. but we’ll go back one day– and melt into it again. into the frustration and champagne and garri with moi moi. in the mean time we cook and talk shit in our voices. our real voices, the ones buried under beige accents and baggy expectations. love to all my nigerians in the diaspora. love to the ones I call and text when everything falls apart. to ife and chuck who shit on my food but support the movement. the only people I cry to and really laugh with cus they’re me. nigerians are the best fuck everything else you heard. and come through and eat my food cus it’s my life when it tastes good, and it’s especially my life when it tastes shit but that’s when it’s the best! naija no dey carry last 🙌🏾🙌🏾
“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.”
While in New Orleans, Chef Wey was astounded to see over 80% of White’s paid $30. Those who didn’t apologized when doing so. That’s when it dawned on Wey that social pressure plays a huge role in his experiment.
Chef Wey said:
I thought, if given the chance to voluntarily give up privilege, folks would not because it is not in their interest. That explained to me why the folks who refused to pay the $30 were equivocating, because they understood that they were participating in antisocial behavior”
Chef Wey is fighting for social change. Without a formal culinary background, he is still providing honest food and healthy conversation.
From April 29 – May 5, you can find Wey in Detroit giving back and enlightening the city.