I am not a rap music fan but I did recently read an article about an event coming up called AfroFuture FEST in Detroit, Michigan. The event just lost one of it's performers over their policy on selling tickets. Jillian Graham, who performs as Tiny Jag, was scheduled to perform at AfroFuture FEST but pulled out when she learned people of color (POC) could buy advanced tickets for $10 but for NONPOC (white people) the tickets were $20.
In defending their ticket policy, AfroFuture FEST organizers wrote:
EQUALITY MEANS TREATING EVERYONE THE SAME
EQUITY IS INSURING EVERYONE HAS WHAT THEY NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL
OUR TICKET STRUCTURE WAS BUILT TO INSURE THAT THE MOST MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES (PEOPLE OF COLOR) ARE PROVIDED WITH AN EQUITABLE CHANCE AT ENJOYING EVENTS IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITY (BLACK DETROIT).
AFFORDING JOY AND PLEASURE IS UNFORTUNATELY STILL A PRIVILEGE IN OUR SOCIETY FOR POC AND WE BELIEVE EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO RECEIVING SUCH.
WE'VE SEEN TOO MANY TIMES ORGASMIC EVENTS HAPPENING IN DETROIT AND OTHER POC POPULATED CITIES AND WHAT CONSISTENTLY HAPPENS IS PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF THE COMMUNITY BENEFITING MOST FROM AFFORDABLE TICKET PRICES BECAUSE OF THEIR PROXIMITY TO WEALTH.
THIS CYCLE DISPROPORTIONATELY DISPLACES BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE FROM ENJOYING ENTERTAINMENT IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES.
Clearly AfroFuture FEST organizers are not interested in equality. They are not even really interested in equity for those in the communities. After all, do you really believe there are absolutely no white people living in that neighborhood? Tiny Jag is simply calling this out for what it is, discrimination. I can imagine if the situation were reversed in which a predominately white festival were being organized with this ticket pricing structure, discriminating against people of color, the event would quickly be shut down. As it should be.
I was once having dinner in the Florida Keys when I over heard a conversation between a couple sitting at an adjacent table and the waiter about the tab. Upon confirming they were not tourists and lived in the area, the waiter quickly applied the "locals" discount to their tab. If AfroFuture FEST organizers were really interested in people in the community, why not print up two different tickets with one for locals and the other for everyone else.
The ticket pricing isn't what really bothers me about this situation. Local people living near large events end up putting up with a lot of crap around the time of the events. Giving locals encouragement to participate in these events can lessen the aggravation of having potentially several thousand extra people dumped into your neighborhood.
What really bothers me is how non-inclusive this event seems to be developing. I was once at a Christmas event in Germany and think back to how welcoming the people were. The people at the event wanted to share a bit of their culture with us and we all had a great time. We had to get a lot of things explained to us since none of us spoke German very well or any at all, but along with the people with us from Germany, the locals were more than happy to help us. If the organizers of AfroFuture FEST wanted to improve race relations they would promote the intermingling of the races to share their culture. Instead they are choosing an exclusionary ticket pricing policy that to me only promotes bigotry and racism.
Like I said before I am not a rap fan and will probably never hear a complete song by Tiny Jag. Even so, I still have to applaud her for the stance she is taking.