Jay-Z is speaking up on his fashion line’s deal with the upmarket store Barneys in New York after the shop has received formal complaints from African American shoppers who claimed they were racially profiled by the store. The U.S. hip-hop superstar blasted reports “demonising” him for not dropping his planned deal with the controversial business.
American rapper Jay-Z performs at Bercy stadium in Paris, October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Barneys is currently being sued by 19-year-old Trayon Christian and 21-year-old Kayla Phillips after they claimed that they were racially profiled by the store in separate incidents. (Read more about it here.)
The 43-year-old rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, has signed a deal with Barneys to release his holiday collection from November 20. But with the recent racial controversies Barneys is facing, his fans have been expecting him to drop the contract in support of the black community.
However, when he has done no such thing, he has received widespread backlash on his seemingly indifferent approach.
On Saturday, Jay-Z has finally spoken up, defending himself from the criticism that he’s getting for his deal with Barneys.
“This collaboration lives in a place of giving and is about the Foundation. 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. The Shawn Carter Foundation is the beneficiary and the foundation is receiving 25 per cent of all sales from the collaboration, 10 per cent of all sales generated in the store on November 20th and an additional donation from Barneys,” Jay-Z said in a statement.
“This money is going to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning. My idea was born out of creativity and charity... not profit.”
The rapper continued that he his decision to continue working with the upscale department store was “based on facts and not emotion.”
“Why am I being demonised, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately? The negligent, erroneous reports and attacks on my character, intentions, and the spirit of this collaboration have forced me into a statement I didn’t want to make without the full facts.”
He concluded, “I am against discrimination of any kind, but if I make snap judgments, 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 empathise with anyone that has been put in that position. Hopefully this brings forth a dialogue to effect real change.”
But while Jay-Z’s statement appeared to have been written out of sincerity and compassion, not all people are convinced. Reactions on the super wealthy celebrity’s statement from various social media have so far been overwhelmingly negative, with people noting Jay-Z’s defensive tone and his evasiveness on the subject of racism.
“I’m afraid that you are too far removed from the streets to understand the raw emotions running through the black community this year,” commenter Lem Khan wrote after reading Jay-Z’s statement. “If you did then you would know that this IS an emotional issue. You cannot leave emotions out of it when we’ve had a year of utter foolery with regard to racial matters in this country.”
“I completely understand wanting all the facts of the situation but please understand that as it stands, the same kind of people who would be saving their nickels and dimes to patronise your line at Barneys are probably the same people who would be profiled upon entering the store,” user shanna bowie added.
“Whatever you decide, I personally will no longer give my money to Barneys whether it’s a charity collaboration or not.”
“To lead this review, we have retained a civil rights expert, Michael Yaki, who also serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Commission has been the nation’s watchdog for more than 50 years. Mr Yaki will be provided with unrestricted access to all aspects of our store operations.
“In addition, Barneys New York has reached out to community leaders to begin a dialogue on this important issue.”
To contact the editor, e-mail: