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Equal Protection

A music and arts festival in Detroit is charging fans different prices depending on their skin color.  The controversial pricing plan has led to one artist pulling out of the event, saying she was “enraged” by the policy.  The organizers of the AfroFuture Fest, set for 3-4 August, are charging lower rates for tickets bought by “people of color” than for “non-people of color”.  Early bird tickets for “POC” were $10 and $20 for “Non-POC”.  There were also some “POC” tickets which were free but they have now sold out.  Later date pricing offers “POC” tickets for $20 and “Non-POC” tickets for $40.  It was not immediately clear what the method was for confirming race and identity of ticket purchasers.

The organizers explained their pricing in the “frequently asked questions” section of their event website.  It stated:

“Why do we have POC (people of color) and Non-POC (white people) tickets? I’m glad you asked! Equality means treating everyone the same.

“Equity is insuring (sic) everyone has what they need to be successful. Our ticket structure was built to insure (sic) that the most marginalized communities (people of color) are provided with an equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community (black Detroit).”

Tiny Jag, a biracial rapper based in Detroit, has quit the event and insisted AfroFuture Fest removed her name from all promotional material.  She told the Detroit Metro Times: “I was immediately enraged just because I am biracial. 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.”  Tiny Jag also said of the ticketing policy: “It’s non-progressive and it’s not solution-focused in my eyes.  “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.”

The legality of AfroFuture’s ticket policy is believed to be questionable.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title II states: “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”  The section describes places of public accommodation to include “any motion picture house, theatre, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment”.

The question of civil rights and equal protection is very simple:

If you reversed roles would you be okay with it?

Are you okay with paying more for the same product simply based on how God made you ?  (Like Race and Gender)

Are you okay with being called a name simply based on how God made you ?  (Like Race and Gender)

Are you okay with being denied an opportunity simply based on how God made you ?  (Like Race and Gender)

Another name for this – The Golden Rule.  The first rule many learn and one of the oldest.   Unfortunately, it appears too many forget this rule.

But this is different than a very recent topic that has also come up: The USA Women’s Soccer Team.

The 28 members of the U.S. women’s team who on March 8 filed a class action against their employer, the United States Soccer Federation. The lawsuit, echoing years of complaints from the top female players, alleged that USSF pays female players less than members of the U.S. men’s team in violation of the U.S. Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The suit contains some worthy statistics. In one comparison, the suit said, if the women’s and men’s teams each played 20 “friendlies” (non-tournament games) in a year and each team won them all, women would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game while a male player would get an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game under their respective contract formulas.

That the world’s elite female athletes may be making just 38%  of what their male counterparts make while achieving loftier heights of success on the pitch makes any pay differences look strikingly unfair.  Yet, the “unequal pay” is not for the same job.   What?  They both are playing soccer for the United States, but they are not on the same team.  They might have the same employer, but the do not play for the same market share.

The comparison that demands equal pay is where two people do the same job, at the same place, at the same level. That is it in a nutshell.  You can not compare the athletes of the NBA and the WNBA – not the same market share.  You can not compare the Verizon Manager in SC to the Verizon Manager in NY.  You can not compare the pay of the business owner with that of the business employee.   Simply put it is not about the effort the person puts in to the job, it is about the profit the person generates from the position.

Therefore what matters is profit.  According to audited financial statements from the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) in 2016, women’s games generated $1.9 million more in revenue than men’s games. From 2016 to 2018, women’s games generated approximately $50.8 million in revenue, compared with $49.9 million for men’s games.  This is the reason the women do not deserve equal pay – they deserve more pay than the men.  If you produce more, you should get paid more period.  For a business that is what needs to be remembered under the U.S. Equal Pay Act.

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