Last week, Tiny Jag — real name Jillian Graham — publicly dropped out of AfroFuture Fest when she learned that the festival was charging white people more to attend. The festival, which supports the nonprofit AfroFuture Youth, said it was doing so in the name of bringing equity into the community. Graham, who is biracial, criticized the festival on Twitter, and the story went viral — getting picked up by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Fox News, and the BBC, with Graham granting several of the outlets on-the-record interviews.
Eventually, AfroFuture Fest changed its ticket model to $20 general admission and "suggested donation" for white attendees, citing threats from white supremacists. Eventbrite.com had also threatened to remove the event from its website if they did not change its ticket prices for violating the company's terms of service, according to CNN. An attorney told the NYT that she believed the ticketing model was discriminatory and could open the door to potential lawsuits.
Just when it seemed like the dust had settled, on Tuesday, the second annual Kindred Music & Culture Festival announced on Twitter that it was dropping Tiny Jag from its lineup.
"We respect her choice to step away from an engagement based on her own beliefs," Kindred's statement reads in part. "However, the artist's actions have created negative and dangerous effects on members of our community. This is in direct conflict with the values that Kindred Media & Entertainment was founded on."
An important announcement regarding the 2019 Kindred Music & Culture Festival lineup. pic.twitter.com/Ne1Zi6dN09— Kindred Music & Culture Festival (@KindredxME) July 9, 2019
Graham declined a request for comment. In an email, Kindred Music & Culture Fest founder Leah Hill said that the festival did not drop Tiny Jag because she criticized AfroFuture Fest.
"Tiny Jag was not removed from the lineup because she criticized the ticketing structure of the AfroFuture Fest — that is her right," Hill says via email. "She was released because of the impact of her actions after leaving the festival. This has caused negative and dangerous effects for AfroFuture Youth Detroit as an organization."
"Kindred Festival is a celebration of Blackness," Hill says. "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."
Graham told the Los Angeles Times that she began receiving criticism from the Black community after she pulled out of AfroFuture Fest.
"I began to get a lot of backlash from the supporters of AfroFuture Fest," she told the paper. "I know it was very emotional for all of us, so I tried to understand where it was coming from."
"I know it's coming from a lot of frustration because of the socioeconomic disparities. It just feels like everyone is just emotionally exhausted," Graham told the paper. "They're frustrated, and [the original pricing] was kind of just a bad call and hope for some sort of societal revelation that backfired. And in the midst of that ... I became a target."
AfroFuture Fest is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Feedom Freedom Grounds in Detroit. Kindred Music & Culture Festival is scheduled for Saturday. Aug. 10, at Roosevelt Park in Detroit.
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