Jay-Z Responds To Barneys Racial Profiling Scandal

jay-z-barneysRacist profiling going on at Barneys and Macy’s has been in the news this week after two customers filed suit against Barneys for having been arrested and hassled by police merely for buying expensive items at the store.

Police say they were given tips that Trayon Christian, who bought a $350 Ferragamo belt, and Kayla Philips, who bought a Celine handbag, were committing credit card fraud. Neither had done anything wrong, it’s just that some friendly neighborhood racist decided that all black people are poor and thus any person of color buying a designer item from Barneys was clearly committing a crime.

Jay-Z fans clamored from a statement from the star, because Jay-Z has a high-profile collaboration coming out with Barneys this Christmas and has in the past been very vocal about cutting ties with brands that exhibit racism. A popular Change.org petition urged Jay-Z to cancel the collaboration.

After maintaining radio silence for several days, Jay-Z has responded to the situation with a statement on his website, and a lot of people are disappointed that he’s decided to take a wait-and-see approach. Jay-Z, however, says he’s not holding judgment because he’s afraid of losing money from the collaboration, because the project was going to benefit charity anyway.

“This collaboration lives in a place of giving and is about the Foundation,” Jay-Z said. “I am not making a dime from this collection; I do not stand to make millions, as falsely reported. I need to make that fact crystal clear.”

I move and speak based on facts and not emotion. I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. … Making a decision prematurely to pull out of this project, wouldn’t hurt Barneys or Shawn Carter, but all the people that stand a chance at higher education. … I have been working with my team ever since the situation was brought to my attention to get to the bottom of these incidents and at the same time find a solution that doesn’t harm all those that stand to benefit from this collaboration.

I am against discrimination of any kind, but if I make snap judgements, no matter who it’s towards, aren’t I committing the same sin as someone who profiles? I am no stranger to being profiled and I truly empathize with anyone that has been put in that position. Hopefully this brings forth a dialogue to effect real change.

That sounds reasonable enough for now, though it is true that Jay-Z has been quick to condemn companies for racism before. The main difference this time does seem to be that Jay-Z has a business venture going on with this one. Several critics are complaining that Jay-Z seems to be willing to wait and see in this case because his collection goes on sale at Barneys in less than a month.

Barneys seems to be scrambling for damage control. CEO Mark Lee is meeting next week with Reverend Al Sharpton, “to discuss the incidents and how the retailer can make amends,” according to The Huffington Post. Sharpton has said that in the meantime customers should put their Barneys shopping “on hold” until they see what exactly Barneys will do to rectify the situation. The National Action Network has threatened to picket the store if the “pattern of racial profiling is not immediately rectified.”

Via The Huffington Post/Photo: WENN

 

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    • Elizabeth

      Has Barney’s released a statement about the events? They should, obviously, but I ask because this situation seems much less “Barney’s is racist” than “Some of the folks who work at Barney’s are racist.” It seems like the easiest solution to just deal with those individuals directly.