After a series of unflattering headlines and “threats from white supremacists,” the organizers of a music and arts festival in Detroit, AfroFuture Fest, have reversed course on their plan to charge double to white attendees — but they’ve also added a strongly suggested donation from “nonPOC” attendees.
“For the safety of our community, family, elders who received threats from white supremacists,& youth who were subjected to seeing racist comments on our IG pg,Afrofuture Fest has changed our ticketing model to $20 General Admission & suggested donation for nonPOC on @eventbrite,” the group behind the event, AfroFuture Youth, tweeted Sunday.
As Sky News reports, tickets for AfroFuture Fest, which will be held in the first weekend of August, initially announced two different rates based on skin color: “early bird prices starting at $10 for ‘people of color’ and $20 for ‘non-people of color.'”
On AfroFuture Fest’s Eventbrite page, organizers presented the racially discriminatory pricing model as a way to give “the most marginalized communities” a chance to attend the event (formatting adjusted):
Equality means treating everyone the same. Equity is insuring everyone has what they need to be successful. Our ticket structure was built to insure that the most marginalized communities (people of color) are provided with an equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community (Black Detroit).
Affording joy and pleasure is unfortunately still a privilege in our society for POC and we believe everyone should have access to receiving such. We’ve seen too many times orgasmic events happening in Detroit and other POC populated cities and what consistently happens is people outside of the community benefiting most from affordable ticket prices because of their proximity to wealth.
This cycle disproportionately displaces Black and brown people from enjoying entertainment in their own communities. As an Afrofuturist youth lead initiative the voices of our youth inform our resistance. Here’s what they have to say: “If you don’t see my Blackness, you don’t see me. Periodt!”
“Some ‘POC’ tickets were also made available for free and were quickly snapped up,” Sky News notes, but as The Daily Wire highlighted, biracial female rapper Jillian Graham, known as “Tiny Jag” — whose grandmother was white — drew national attention to the segregated pricing when she announced that she was dropping out of performing at the event over the “non-progressive” pricing model.
“I was immediately enraged just because I am biracial. I have family members that would have, under those circumstances, been subjected to something that I would not ever want them to be in … especially not because of anything that I have going on,” Graham told the Detroit Metro Times Thursday. “A lot of the songs that I perform are from my first project called Polly — that is my grandmother’s name. How do you want me to come to a performance and perform these songs off a mixtape that is titled after this white woman that you would have charged double to get in here? Like, it’s just outrageous from so many different angles.”
“It’s non-progressive and it’s not solution-focused in my eyes,” she continued. “It seems almost like it has spite, and unfortunately with spite comes hate, and that’s just not obviously going to be a good direction for us to go if we’re looking for positive change … It’s not fun to withdraw out of shows, especially at home, especially in your hometown, and especially when your supporters have been so good to you. It’s also not fun to do that to my fellow Black women, like that sucks too. It sucks that this is a thing that’s put a wedge here.”
“Graham says after the festival confirmed the price structure, she immediately withdrew from the event and requested that she be removed from any promotional materials,” the Detroit Metro Times reported. “She says because she had publicly supported the festival without knowing about the discrepancy between the ticket prices, that she had to publicly withdraw her support as well.”
Tiny Jag’s decision to pull out of the racially segregating event was backed up by fellow rapper Zuby, who tweeted: “Props to @tinyjaguar for standing up on principle and pulling out of the performance. Want people to recognise that.”