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Jay Z defends deal with Barneys after fan furor over racism allegations

Two black Barneys shoppers have accused the high-end department store of racial profiling.
Posted By Kate Stanton   |   Oct. 27, 2013 at 10:18 PM   |   Comments

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(UPI) -- Jay Z has asked fans not to "demonize" him for pulling out of his Barneys collaboration "prematurely," after two black customers accused the retailer of discrimination.

"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," the 43-year-old rapper and mogul said in a post on his website. "Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?"

Jay Z (real name Shawn Carter) and other designers have been working with Barneys to create a clothing line inspired by him, with some of the proceeds going to charity. But some Hova fans have started a petition asking the renowned performer to pull out of the project.

"Jay Z should be appalled by Barneys' actions, and withdraw all support from them," a Change.org petition states. "If he does this, he will send a clear message to all corporations that are likeminded, that this behavior cannot be tolerated any longer."

The controversy started when Trayon Christian, a black college student, bought a $350 belt at Barneys in New York City and was subsequently arrested. Police detained him outside the store on suspicion that he'd used someone else's credit card. Shortly afterward, 21-year-old Kayla Phillips said she was also accused of using another person's credit card when she purchased a $2,500 handbag.

Jay Z said in his online statement that with part of the proceeds going to charity, it would be unfair to the recipients of his foundation.

"I am not making a dime from this collection; I do not stand to make millions, as falsely reported" he wrote. "This money is going to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning."

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.

Barneys apologized in a statement and agreed to launch an investigation.

"Barneys New York believes that no customer should have the unacceptable experience described in recent media reports, and we offer our sincere regret and deepest apologies," the company said in a statement. "To this end, we are conducting a thorough review of our practices and procedures as they relate to these matters to ensure that they reflect our continued commitment to fairness and equality."

You can read Jay Z's statement in full below:

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% of all sales from the collaboration, 10% of all sales generated in the store on November 20th and an additional donation from Barneys. 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.

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. Why am I being demonized, 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. 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. – Shawn “JAY Z” Carter

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