Jillian Graham, aka Detroit-based rapper Tiny Jag, pulled out of a local music festival this week because she disagreed with its pay model, in which people of color would pay less for tickets than white festivalgoers.
Graham said she only found out about AfroFuture Fest's pay model when a white friend reached out to her and sent her a screenshot via Instagram that outlined the pay difference. The early bird POC ("people of color") ticket was $10 while the early bird "non-POC" ticket cost $20.
"I was immediately enraged just because I am biracial," Graham tells Metro Times. "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."
Graham says after the festival confirmed the price structure, she immediately withdrew from the event and requested that she be removed from any promotional materials. She says because she had publicly supported the festival without knowing about the discrepancy between the ticket prices, that she had to publicly withdraw her support as well. She did so by taking to Twitter.
Graham says that while she is definitely for the goal of putting equity back into the Black community, she doesn’t agree with the method being used to do so.
"It’s non-progressive and it’s not solution-focused in my eyes," she says. "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."
Graham says it was difficult to pull out of the festival because she appreciates the support of her fans.
"It’s not fun to withdraw out of shows, especially at home, especially in your hometown, and especially when your supporters have been so good to you," she says. "It’s also not fun to do that to my fellow Black women, like that sucks too. It sucks that this is a thing that’s put a wedge here."
While the festival organizers declined MT's request for comment, they explained their rationale behind the ticket prices on the festival's Eventbrite page:
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.
As an Afrofuturist youth lead initiative the voices of our youth inform our resistance.
Here's what they have to say
"If you don't see my Blackness, you don't see me. Periodt!"