Music / Culture

AfroFuture Fest Detroit vs Tiny Jag: The upcoming festival that’s caused a digital race war

Is there such thing as positive discrimination?

A Detroit music festival, AfroFurture Fest came under fire after it was brought to the attention of one of its acts, Tiny Jag, that a segregated ticketing service had been implemented. The organization is a youth led initiative aiding the mobilization of Detroit’s young people by providing a space to be used to teach political education sessions, learn tech, explore the Arts edit, but also doubles as a wellness centre promoting healing. The biannual festival had released the lineup to their fundraising festival on the 4th of July with  statement that read: 

“We’re activating the BLACK farm grounds of FREEDOM FREEDOM (866 Manistique) & YES, this is happening on the BLACK Detroit’s Eastside

Early Bird POC Tickets are $10 & $20 for NONPOC’s &on sale until JULY 17th” 

Many had criticized the event organisers for inciting race based discrimination and as a result, Tiny Jag decided to withdraw from the festival, due to rapper’s mixed heritage she could not align herself with an organization that blatantly distinguishes privilege for one race over others. Jillian Graham, who goes by the aforementioned stage name, released this statement days later: 

“A NONPOC friend of mine brought to my attention that afrofuture is requiring non-people of colour to pay twice the amount to attend the festival as POC. This does not reflect the views of myself or the Tiny Jag team. I will not be playing this show. I apologize to anyone who may have been triggered or offended.” 

The festival issued a disclaimer to the race based tickets by reiterating the economic disparities that exist within the Michigan state. The price points were intended on bringing “equity into the community” by disadvantaging the advantaged. A problematic precedence to deploy and as criticisms to both the rapper Tiny Jag and her supporters’, the festivals actions and the resultant actions of Kindred Festival have been met with great anger and disproval with any claiming the their actions “racist” in addition to it promoting a  “double standard” Liberals, White nationalists/ supremacist trolls proceeds to attack the organizers and their affiliates

An additional Detroit festival later severed ties with Tiny Jag due to the threats initiated by her more radical supporters. Kindred festival’s response to the backlash were as follows, ”Kindred Festival is a celebration of Blackness,” “It would go against the foundation of the event and company to give such a platform to an artist that has garnered support from those who would threaten an organization whose mission is to support Black youth in the City of Detroit.”

For over 50 years, Detroit has suffered to recover, greatly by the changes in policy, factory closures and urban renewal, increased taxation, subpar public services, an onslaught of workers-related debt , all encompassed by race riots between the 50s and 80s. Not only has it completely destabilized the economically deprived but has resorted in a population decline of up to 600,000 people. With an average household income of $30,000  and an 8% increase since 2000. The quality of life for the city’s poorest continues to plummet to this day with 34.5% living below the poverty line and 48% of children residing at that rate.


Much to the dismay of government officials, a city with a population of 713,777 individuals   82.7% of which identify as black or African American, the disregard of a National crisis so dire is  proof of geographic discrimination.

As the US 2020political election heats up, candidates have (and often do) propose strategies in order to bridge the race pay gap. Some opt to propose schemes that favor minority ethnic members with a focus on black people and people of First Nation, however, the biggest topic of discussion resides in the proposal of reparations. Reparations have long been cited as a satisfactory mode to repair the ills of the slave trade. Critiques have suggested that, many other oppressed groups have received compensations for their trauma thus aiding in the stabilization of their community’s economy,what better way to incite equality, than providing a leg up.

The critique to the effectiveness of this policy has long been debated and quite frankly, given the example of other nations that have received the compensation, it has done little to truly advantage their economic status.

Is the $10 to $20 disparity discriminative? Yes. Greatly. However, the incentive for white festival goers to be accepted into space cultivated for the protection and mobilization of black and minority youths within the city, which, note, barely exists and if so, is disproportionately underfunded, seems a slight offense to their intended purpose: to achieve economic equality for the most affected by deprivation in the Michigan state.

Despite their “well intention”, this does nothing but pose a greater threat to minority ethnic groups. There’s no way of determining race based signaling on the other end of the spectrum. SO will this be the example used for defined, all white spaces in the future. minority’s are already marginalized, what does it mean when a community based program is distinguishing by race.

Secondly, how is this effectively implemented? The tickets were purchasable by the the e-commerce ticketing platform, Eventbrite. How will the organization identify race when their vendor is powered by AR technology? will they screen attendees ID?  NAACP attorney General of Houston, Eric Holder, noted in 2012 that 25% of African Americans and 8% of white people lacked government issued photographic identification.

There should definitely be schemes in place to subsidize the costs fro entertainment in a city where 48% of children live below the poverty line, certainly. Black-only safe spaces should be allowed to exist. Does that mean that organizations should impose such blatantly discriminative tactics, no. Not on their own accord.

11 July 2019