By Blake Neff
Have you ever gone out for dinner with a group of friends, but struggled to decide on how to split the bill fairly while also undermining white privilege and smashing the patriarchy? Well, fret not, because now there’s an app for that.
Equipay is a new app developed last week for San Francisco’s Comedy Hack Day (where it took first prize). The app aspires to split dinner bills more fairly through a process that creator Luna Malbroux dubs “affirmative fractions.”
Instead of splitting a dinner bill equally, Equipay uses Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data regarding the average income of various racial and gender groups and splits the bill based on income levels. On a sample $350 bill for five people (hey, San Francisco food is expensive), the app forced the most privileged person (apparently an Asian male) to pay $89, while a less privileged black woman was assigned a bill of just $51.
Not only does the app allow for bill splitting, but it also promises to rate the “diversity level” of a user’s friend group. A low amount of diversity may result in an “Oscars” or “San Francisco startup” level of diversity, for instance, while assembling a more diverse cohort of friends will result in the “college brochure” rating.
The app also has a built in “protest” feature where white and Asian men who feel cheated by the app can lodge one of several canned protests, such as “I was a middle child” and “I am aware of my privilege.” These protests then trigger equally canned replies, such as one that berates the protester about the wage gap and suggests they read articles on Jezebel.
Malbroux, herself a black woman, summed it all up succinctly: “It’s reparations — one bill at a time.”
The app is at least in part an elaborate joke (it was revealed at a comedy event, after all), but Malbroux, who works as a diversity and inclusion trainer, says it is also intended to make a real point.
“You can reach people a lot quicker through comedy,” she told The Washington Post, “because their defenses are down.”
The Post, at least, seems sold on it. Wonkblog’s Emily Badger touts Equipay as the “fairest and funniest” way to split a restaurant bill. Meanwhile, Robinson Meyer of The Atlantic said Malbroux’s app may at least in part make up for the fact that presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders haven’t been willing to openly endorse reparations for black Americans.
Equipay is not yet available, but Malbroux told The Post her team plans to finish it and release it soon.