Following backlash, AfroFuture Fest changes ticket pricing that charged white people double

How did a local music festival wade into the socio-political conversation of fairness between different races?

By ticket prices. 

Titled AfroFuture Fest, the grassroots organized event was designed to uplift Detroit youth and black children. However, the event is receiving backlash from community members, both within the city and across the country because of how it charged people different ticket prices based on their race.

"That's just stupid. That's blatant discrimination. Come on," said Ron White, who disagrees with the model.

But that's not how the festival organizers see it. The decision to stagger the prices was made because of the big difference between equality and equity.

"Considering the wealth gap right now, with where black people are economically in comparison to white people collectively, this is what we need," said Adrienne Ayers, a festival organizer.

How the ticket model worked was POCs - or People of Color - would be charged $10 for an early-bird ticket. Non-POCs - or non-people of color - would be charged $20 for the same ticket. The group defined non-POCs as white people. General admission tickets would cost $20 for people of color and $40 for white people,

Mylik Roland, a neighbor said he wasn't pleased with the decision. He said it made him feel "disappointed" and called the decision "Not fair. Not equal."

"It makes sense, but I still feel like everything should be the same," he said.

Criticism of the ticket model even came from some listed on the lineup. Rapper Tiny Jag, also known as Jillian Graham who identifies as biracial pulled out of the festival. She took to social media to say the decision made her feel "triggered."

"This does not reflect the views of myself or the Tiny Jag team," she said in a statement. "I apologize to anyone who may have been triggered or offended."

Conversations of equality and equity for African Americans have made headlines not just locally, but on a federal level as well.

On Juneteenth of 2019, a day celebrated as the official end of slavery, lawmakers and advocates like Ta-Nehisi Coates testified before Congress to discuss a bill titled H.R. 40, which would allocate money to discuss reparations for slavery - the idea that descendants of slaves should receive some form of compensation.

As for Ayers, she said the organization changed the ticket pricing for general admission to $20, with a recommended donation from non-people of color. However, the change in policy was made due to backlash, not change in principle.

"We were receiving threats from racist white supremacists, sending threatening messages to elders on this land here," she said."

Organized for Aug. 3 at the Feed'om Freedom Garden on Manistique, Ayers said the group has already surpassed $1,000 in ticket sales. 

"We are doing collectively what we need to do which is supporting equity and using AfroFuture as a framework to move forward and do what we have to do for our people," she said.