After facing a serious backlash, a popular Detroit music festival has dropped its controversial plan to charge white concertgoers twice as much as people of color.

The AfroFuture Fest sparked outrage with its ticketing model for the Aug. 3 event that saw people of color paying a maximum of $20 compared to $40 for “Non-POC” tickets.

Biracial rapper Tiny Jag was so “enraged” that she publicly withdrew from performing, and ticketing website Eventbrite threatened to bar the festival from its services, according to the Independent.

The festival finally backed down late Sunday — but blamed threats from racists rather than the race-based disparity itself.

“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,” organizers announced on Twitter late Sunday.

Additionally, the ticketing website EventBrite made it clear the festival would not be able to continue using its website if this race-based pricing policy remained. The revisions provided white people the choice of opting-in to pay more.

A spokesperson for EventBrite, which is hosting ticket sales for the fest, explained in a statement Monday that the site doesn’t permit events that require people to pay different prices based on protected characteristics such as race. Afrofuture Fest was asked to alter its pricing model and warned that if it didn’t comply, the event would be delisted.

The pricing structure was revised, and revised again. In one iteration it had reflected a $20 general-admission price, with a box to make a “Non POC Suggested Donation.” A pop-out message had read as follows:

“Events often designed for marginalized Black and Brown communities can be easily co-opted by those with cultural, monetary, and class privileges. Our goal is to ensure that the youth of our communities can participate in the building of a just society; one that promotes EQUITY over EQUALITY. Non-POC individuals are encouraged to provide additional donations as acknowledgement of this historical inequity.”

The first defense of the policy will be perhaps the most entertaining act associated with the festival.

According to the Detroit Metro Times, Francesca Lamarre, of AfroFuture Fest, defended the festival’s initial ticket prices, saying its price structure existed to ensure people of color had a chance to “experience joy and pleasure” within the same spaces as their white counterparts.

She said the model also allows white people to show themselves as allies and use their wealth and privilege to increase equity for black life in Detroit.

The festival’s co-director Numi Ori equated their motives as “equity” for the lack of accessibility and affordability of concerts for black people in the Motor City.

“There are events and spaces being created in the city that we don’t have access to, which means that we are not always going to be able to afford them or go there,” Ori told the outlet. “Or we don’t feel welcomed because people don’t look like us — specifically with concerts, which is just one little piece of the puzzle or one little drop in what’s really the bigger issue.”

Sadly, one of those who initially complained about the price structure was punished.

A Detroit hip-hop music festival removed rapper Tiny Jag from its lineup after she criticized another local hip-hop festival for its race-based ticket prices. After the incident, Kindred Music & Culture Festival announced on Tuesday it was dropping Tiny Jag from its lineup.

Last week, Tiny Jag — real name Jillian Graham — publicly dropped out of AfroFuture Fest when she learned that the festival was charging white people more to attend. The festival, which supports the nonprofit AfroFuture Youth, said it was doing so in the name of bringing equity into the community. Graham, who is biracial, criticized the festival on Twitter, and the story went viral — getting picked up by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Fox News, and the BBC, with Graham granting several of the outlets on-the-record interviews.

Now, this is a brave artist.


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