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Detroit Festival Backtracks After Charging White People Double

A Detroit music festival that originally charged white people double the admission that it charged people of color has changed its pricing structure.

The festival, Afrofuture Fest, initially charged people of color $20 and “non-POC” $40, according to the ticketing details on its Eventbrite page early Sunday. Now all tickets will be $20.

The decision to change course came after threats and harassment, said Adrienne Ayers, who goes by Numi and is the founder and co-director of Afrofuture Youth. She said that after right-wing websites highlighted the pricing, people called and harassed the owner of the venue, and sent messages to her co-director’s family.

“For safety, not anything else but that, the new ticket structure will be a standard set price across the board of $20,” Ms. Ayers said Sunday afternoon. “However, there will be a suggested donation for non-people of color.”

Ms. Ayers said the previous price structure was created because “events often designed for marginalized black and brown communities can easily be co-opted by those with cultural, monetary and class privileges.”

“Our goal is to ensure that the youth of our community can participate in the building of a more just society, one that specifically promotes equity over equality,” she added.

Fifty percent of the profits from the Aug. 3 festival, which will take place at Detroit’s Feedom Freedom farm, will go toward Afrofuture Youth, a sponsored program of the nonprofit Allied Media Projects.

The program focuses on young black people in Detroit, and aims to give middle- and high-school students the space and resources to build a “new, more equitable world,” according to its website. Ms. Ayers said the program currently benefits 10 children.

The festival is expected to attract at least 200 people, and as of Sunday had sold 71 tickets, Ms. Ayers said. She said that all 13 tickets initially set aside for white people were sold.

The previous pricing structure led one rapper, Jillian Graham, whose stage name is Tiny Jag, to drop out of the event.

“I just felt as if the wool was over my eyes,” said Ms. Graham, who identifies as biracial. “It was soon followed with just an overall recognition that this is just wrong. It wouldn’t matter what race I was, I knew that I didn’t agree with it.”

Ms. Ayers said no other artists backed out of the event. “Everybody else is fine,” she said. “Everybody on the lineup has expressed extreme support of everything that we’re doing.”

The old pricing structure was “discriminatory” and could have resulted in lawsuits, said Tiffany Ellis, a Detroit-based civil rights lawyer. But, she said, private organizations have some leeway to choose who they are going to do business with and how they do that business.

“We have constitutional rights as an individual, and the 14th Amendment provides that we cannot be discriminated against because all people are created equal,” Ms. Ellis said Sunday. “When it’s a private actor, those protections are different.”

Ms. Ellis said the public relations fallout from the organization’s pricing would “tank” the idea much faster than any legal ramifications.

Despite the controversy, there are already plans for another festival next year.

“The farm Feedom Freedom is in full support,” Ms. Ayers said. “Our supporters are all here. I want to make it clear that a lot of people in the city of Detroit, especially the Detroit art scene, are supportive of what we’re doing.”

Per: The New York Times

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