Organisers of a music and arts festival in Detroit that was charging attendees different prices based on their skin colour have ditched the controversial model after receiving “threats from white supremacists”.
Tickets for AfroFuture Fest, scheduled for the weekend of 3 August, had been split into different rates – with early bird prices starting at $10 for “people of colour” and $20 for “non-people of colour”.
Some “POC” tickets were also made available for free and were quickly snapped up, and the strategy prompted biracial rapper Tiny Jag to drop out of the show and demand her name be removed from promotional material.
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 pic.twitter.com/6wQXEjRKtt
— Afrofuture Youth (@AFYDet) July 7, 2019
Organisers – who had said the pricing model was designed to ensure “the most marginalised communities” were given a chance to attend – are now charging $20 per ticket for all.
Explaining the change, the AfroFuture Youth Twitter page said it was to ensure “the safety of our community, family, elders who received threats from white supremacists” – and to protect young people “who were subjected to seeing racist comments on our Instagram page”.
Attendees are now being encouraged to instead make an additional donation to support people of colour.
The group said: “Events often designed for marginalised black and brown communities can be easily co-opted by those with cultural, monetary, and class privileges. Non-POC individuals are encouraged to provide additional donations as acknowledgement of this historical inequity.”
The change has been welcomed as a “better solution”.
Replying to the announcement, Alex Daly tweeted: “I support the intention of trying to level the playing field, but the original implementation is discriminatory. I think this move to encourage donations is a better solution.”
Another follower said: “Awesome. Just remember you can always set aside tickets for low income residents but you can’t do it based on colour.”
Eventbrite – the website hosting the tickets – said it had asked the organisers to “alter their event accordingly”, as its policy does not “permit events that require attendees to pay different prices based on their protected characteristics such as race or ethnicity”.
The legality of the original ticket policy was also believed to be questionable.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title II 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, colour, religion, or national origin.”