Detroit-based rapper Tiny Jag pulled out of the AfroFuture music festival after finding out that white people were being charged more for tickets than people of color.
The 27-year-old rapper says she decided not to perform after she found out from a friend that the price structure for tickets was based on race. The Detroit festival was going to charge white people twice as much as people of color -- “early bird” prices of $10 for people of color and $20 for “non-POC.”
“I was immediately upset,” Tiny Jag tells Here & Now's Robin Young. “I don't think I was wondering if they would be able to pay it, but just the message that it sent. I didn't know this was the direction that we were headed.”
Here & Now reached out to the AfroFuture music festival for comment but did not receive a response. The organizers wrote on the festival’s Eventbrite page that the price structure was built to ensure that more marginalized communities are provided with an equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community.
“Events often designed for marginalized Black and Brown communities can be easily co-opted by those with cultural, monetary, and class privileges,” organizer Numi Ori wrote on Facebook. “Our goal is to ensure that the youth of our communities can participate in the building of a just society; one that promotes EQUITY over EQUALITY.”
Tiny Jag says she has dealt with a lot of backlash for her decision not to perform, particularly from the local black music and art community in Detroit. But she stands by her belief that festivalgoers shouldn’t “have to compromise our integrity or alienate another race in order to improve ... fixed and institutionalized systemic disparities.”
“That's never been a part of it,” she says. “I know that's not our only option.”
The AfroFuture festival stopped the race-based ticket pricing after Eventbrite threatened to remove the event’s page from its site for violating its terms of service. The festival is now charging everyone everyone $20 per ticket. But Tiny Jag says the move won’t change her decision not to perform.
“The organization made it very clear that the only reason that it was changed wasn't because of any school of thought modification or anything like that,” she says. “It was only because of the threats that they began to receive. So I can't support the school of thought where the ticket structure is actually still figuratively supported.”
This segment aired on July 10, 2019.