Jay-Z defends relationship with Barneys after alleged racial profiling

Oct. 27, 2013 at 12:42 PM

NEW YORK, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Rapper Jay-Z issued a statement defending his collaboration with Barneys New York after two black customers said they were racially profiled at the store.

Derick Bowers, a fan of the rapper, started a petition on Change.org, calling for Jay-Z to end his relationship with the high-end department store, saying if it weren't for the rapper's celebrity, he'd be treated the same way two black customers said they were treated, ABC News reported Saturday.

A 21-year-old woman, Kayla Phillips, said police stopped her after she purchased a $2,500 handbag from the store, accusing her of paying for it with a stolen pre-paid debit card. She wasn't charged, but Phillips recently came forward with her story after a 19-year-old man said police arrested him for suspected credit card fraud after he bought a $350 belt from Barneys.

The man, Trayon Christian, wasn't charged and was released, but said he was unfairly targeted because of the color of his skin.

Jay-Z is in collaboration with Barneys to create a collection of high-end merchandise, a portion of the proceeds from which are slated to go to scholarships for students in need, ABC News reported.

"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," the rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, wrote on his website.

"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," he said.

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