AfroFuture Fest, a youth music festival scheduled to be held in August in Detroit, has walked back its decision to charge white attendees more than people of color after facing harsh backlash—including threats, having an artist drop out, and having Eventbrite threaten to drop the event from its site.
According to the New York Daily News, originally people of color were charged $20 for a full price ticket, while non-POC were charged $40 for the Aug. 3 AfroFuture Fest.
The trend existed even in early bird tickets, as CNN notes, with “Early Bird POC Ticket” costing $10, while the “Early Bird NONPOC Ticket” was $20.
As the Daily News notes, AfroFuture Fest organizers claimed that the pricing disparity existed in order to level the economic field and give people of color, particularly those from the surrounding Detroit area, an equal opportunity to enjoy the event that more privileged people would have the means to enjoy.
“Our ticket structure was built to ensure that the most marginalized communities [people of color] are provided with an equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community [Black Detroit],” the organizers said on the festival’s Eventbrite page. “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,” the explanation continued. “This cycle disproportionately displaces Black and Brown people from enjoying entertainment in their own communities.”
Explanations aside, some people were just not feeling it. Tiny Jag, a biracial rapper due to perform at AfroFuture Fest, pulled out after she learned about the pricing difference.
“I was immediately enraged just because I am biracial,” Tiny Jag, legally known as Jillian Graham, told the Detroit Metro Times. “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.”
“A lot of the songs that I perform are from my first project called Polly — that is my grandmother’s name,” she added. “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.”
Meanwhile, ticketing website Eventbrite, where the festival is posted, told CNN in a statement that it doesn’t “permit events that require attendees to pay different prices based on their protected characteristics such as race or ethnicity.”
“In this case, we have notified the creator of the event about this violation and requested that they alter their event accordingly,” the statement read. “We have offered them the opportunity to do this on their own accord; should they not wish to comply we will unpublish the event completely from our site.”
In the midst of the fallout, AfroFuture fest did change its terms on Sunday night, citing “threats from white supremacists and youth who were subjected to seeing racist comments on our [Instagram page.]”
“AfroFuture Fest has changed our ticketing model to $20 General Admission & suggested donation for nonPOC,” the group said in a tweet, tagging Eventbrite.
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