Ever since accusations flew about Barneys racially profiling black patrons, celebrities have been weighing on on what Jay-Zshould do.
The music mogul turned fashion icon stayed quiet for days after fans called on him to pull his highly-anticipated holiday collection from the store. The online petition garnered almost 15,000 signatures before the rapper responded with a statement that tip-toed around his stance on the issue.
“Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?” he said in a statement that pointed out he would not be profiting from the partnership.
“The Shawn Carter Foundation is the beneficiary and the foundation is receiving 25 percent of all sales from the collaboration, 10 percent of all sales generated in the store on November 20th and an additional donation from Barneys,” he said. “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.”
He went on to explain that he was waiting for “facts” from community leaders and Barneys and did not want to make a snap judgment.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The store has denied any wrongdoing in the two court cases that have been filed against them and insist their policies forbid racial profiling.
“We take this issue very seriously, and if any employees were to deviate from our policies we would terminate those individuals immediately,” Chief Executive, Mark Lee said in a statement.
Anonymous accounts of profiling have circulated current employees.
“If a black person comes in with a sweatshirt or sneakers, some of the white sales associates would be on the floor saying: ‘Why are they even here? They’re probably going to scam,'” a former associate told Huffington Post. “They would say this stuff in front of me. Sometimes I would just walk away, and sometimes I would say, ‘You never know.'”
Meanwhile, celebrities have been drawing their own conclusions on the controversy. Queen Latifah threatened to boycott the store if the accusations were true and Kanye West wore a jacket emblazoned with a confederate flag to the store last week in a silent protest of sorts.
He wasn’t so silent about the matter during his concert in Las Vegas on Oct. 25 when he weighed in on the controversy during his performance of “New Slaves.”
“Don’t touch anything in the store. Excuse me, that’s that ‘Can I help you sir?’ That’s that racial profiling out in front of Barneys and sh-t. Talking about, ‘Did you steal that?'”
Others, like Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore have taken jabs at Jay-Z for his squeamish stand. They poked fun at the mogul on The Daily Show and quipped, “Jay-Z doesn’t care about black people!”
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