People are rallying behind a Detroit music festival after a rapper from the community dropped out over “unfair” ticket prices where people of color paid half what white people were charged.
On July 2, rapper Tiny Jag tweeted that she was pulling out of performing at the AfroFuture Fest after she found out that white patrons were being charged higher ticket prices than people of color. The rapper, whose real name is Jillian Graham, elaborated that the festival’s pay model did “not reflect [her] views or the Tiny Jag team.”
"I was going to make a video but I am too triggered to address this issue in that way,” she wrote. Graham said that she was “unknowingly” added to the festival lineup due to miscommunication on the festival's behalf, which was confirmed by her manager.
She was going to go ahead and do the performance until a white friend sent her a screenshot of the different ticket prices. Early bird tickets were priced at $10 for people of color while the early bird "non-POC" tickets were $20, according to a tweet from the organization.
In an interview with the Metro Times, Graham opened up about her decision to publicize the issue, saying that felt “enraged” when she learned about the pricing because she's "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 publication.
The organizers behind the festival explained the price difference on their Eventbrite page, citing the history of Black and brown individuals routinely being priced out of enjoying events happening in their own community.
“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,” they wrote.
They were forced to change their prices after being subjected to attacks on social media from white supremacists. On Sunday night (July 7), they tweeted they will charge a $20 general admission fee with the option for people to donate.
“For the safety of our community, family, elders who received threats from white supremacists [and] youth who were subjected to seeing racist comments on our IG [page], Afrofuture Fest has changed our ticketing model to $20 General Admission & suggested donation for non-POC.”
The idea of organizations and festivals using a sliding scale of fees is not a new thing and is becoming more common. In September, Art Basel announced that the organization would implement a similar pay model to decrease the cost barrier smaller galleries face.
In 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported on LGBTQ organizations implementing similar pay models so that marginalized communities could afford to participate in cultural events without being financially shut out. The Midwest Wimmin’s Festival also charges different prices based on income.
Social media users are rallying behind AfroFuture Fest and voicing support for the efforts to highlight the financial disparity.
Photo: @tinyjag on Instagram