July 9, 2019 1:14 pm
Updated: July 9, 2019 1:28 pm

Detroit music festival re-adjusts pricing after charging white people double

Poster for the 2019 Afrofuture Fest music festival, which is set to take place on Aug. 3, 2019, in Detroit, Mich.

Afrofuture Youth
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An Afrofuturist group, Afrofuture Youth, came under fire last week after doubling the price of tickets for white people attending its upcoming Detroit, Mich., music festival.

Initially, Afrofuture Fest, which is partnered with American ticketing site Eventbrite, separated its ticketing prices between people of colour (POC) and non-POC. The latter group was charged $20 for entry, whereas POC were only charged $10.

As a result of the festival’s ticketing policy, its organizers received criticism and threats in addition to losing one of the festival’s performers, Tiny Jag.

The Detroit-based rapper, born Jillian Graham, addressed the issue in a tweet last Tuesday, saying: “This does not reflect the views of myself or the Tiny Jag team.”

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“I will not be playing this show,” she revealed. “I apologize to anyone who may have been triggered or offended.

“I was going to make a video but I am too triggered to address this issue in that way,” Graham added. “Today, a non-POC friend of mine brought to my attention that Afrofuture is requiring non-POC to pay twice the amount to attend the festival as POC.”

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In an interview with the Detroit Metro Times, Graham revealed she is biracial, saying this is what sparked her initial rage upon learning about the ticket prices.

“I have family members that would have, under those circumstances, been subjected to something that I would not ever want them to be in,” she said. “Especially not because of anything that I have going on.”

A number of social media users later took to the internet to voice their opinion on the matter. People were divided in their opinion of the policy.

Many were angered by Afrofuture Youth’s act of “discrimination,” while others supported its decision to charge non-POC more for tickets.

Here’s what some supporters had to say:

“Wait, why are people upset that Afrofuture Fest [is] charging white people more for tickets?” wrote one Twitter user.

“I just hope everyone who supports Afrofuture Fest buys a ticket to put your money where your mouth is,” wrote another.

“If you don’t like it then keep your money in your pocket,” they concluded.

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Here’s what some who opposed the pricing system had to say:

One individual called out Eventbrite over Twitter for “allowing” the festival organizers to base ticket prices on race.

“You allow discrimination pricing for events on your site?” they asked. “AfroFuture Fest has different event pricing based on the colour of your skin.”

British rapper Zuby even chimed in.

“I wonder how #afrofuture music festival will charge Asians?” commented another. “Do we pay $15 because we’re non-white, but ‘privileged?'”

“You wanna support blacks?” Graham wrote in an additional tweet. “Pay the n—-s that [are] playing the event [what they’re] worth.”

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Due to the heavy amount of backlash, Afrofuture Youth announced on Twitter that it would be fixing the event’s ticket prices.

For the safety of our community, family and elders who received threats from white supremacists, Afrofuture Fest has changed [its] ticketing model to $20 general admission,” they wrote.

Following the change, Afrofuture Youth explained its reasoning for initially introducing POC and non-POC ticket prices in an official statement.

“Our ticket structure was built to insure [sic] that the most marginalized communities (POC) are provided with an equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community,” the statement read.

“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 statement concludes: “This cycle disproportionately displaces black and brown people from enjoying entertainment in their own communities.”

Global News has reached out to Afrofuture Youth seeking further comment on the matter.

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In an official statement provided to Global News, Eventbrite wrote, “We do not permit events that require attendees to pay different prices based on their protected characteristics such as race or ethnicity.”

“When we became aware of the violation with Afrofuture Fest, we notified the creator of the event and requested that they alter their ticket pricing accordingly.”

“Our mission is to bring the world together through live experiences. We strive to provide a platform that enables people to gather for their chosen purpose, and that reflects diverse viewpoints, so long as they don’t violate our terms.”

The statement concludes: “We also let them know that if they did not comply, we would remove the event completely from our site.”

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Afrofuturism, according to HuffPost, is a social movement that aims to reimagine all art forms, including literature, film and music, through the lens of POC.

The idea is to incorporate cultural and historical elements from various different racial or ethnic backgrounds into art, therefore prompting a shift and balance in terms of diversity and equality.

Afrofuture Fest 2019 is set to take place on Aug. 3. Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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