by Sheri Urban
The AfroFuture music festival in Detroit is charging white people double the price for a ticket compared with people of color, in a move they claim will ensure marginalized groups are given “equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community.”
The festival, scheduled to take place August 3rd, offers different pricing structures depending on whether the attendee is white or a “person of color.” For white people, or “non-persons of color,” early bird tickets cost $10, compared with $20 for people of color. For those purchasing tickets closer to the event, white people will pay $40, compared with $20 for people of color.
The organizers of the event explain the reasons behind their discriminatory system in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of their website, although it is still unclear how they intend to validate the race and identity of ticket purchasers.
“Why do we have POC (people of color) and NONPOC (white people) tickets?” the page reads. “I’m glad you asked! Equality means treating everyone the same. Equity is insuring (sic) everyone has what they need to be successful. Our ticket structure was built to insure (sic) that the most marginalized communities (people of color) are provided with an equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community (black Detroit).”
One artist, a mixed race rapper named Tiny Jag, has already pulled out of the event in protest and has demanded her name be removed from all their promotional material.
“I was immediately enraged just because I am 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,” she told the Detroit Metro Times.
“It’s non-progressive and it’s not solution-focused in my eyes,” Jag continued. “It seems almost like it has spite, and unfortunately with spite comes hate, and that’s just not obviously going to be a good direction for us to go if we’re looking for positive change.”
There are also questions over the legality of such a pricing system, with critics pointing to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title II which states: “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”
The act goes on to define places of public accommodation as including “any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment.”
It is not the first time that such entertainment venues have offered race-based pricing structures. In 2016, the Cinder Block Comedy Festival in New York offered women, people of color, and people who identify as LGBT discounted tickets for the event, while straight white men were asked to pay the full price.