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Jay-Z's Barneys Deal Draws Flak After New York City Racism Claim

Image: Jay-Z's Barneys Deal Draws Flak After New York City Racism Claim

By Alexandra Ward   |   Monday, 28 Oct 2013 10:46 AM

Rapper Jay-Z appears to be sticking with Barneys New York, despite mounting social media pressure and an online petition calling for him to dump his upcoming partnership with the high-end retailer after two alleged cases of racial profiling.

Two young black people came forward last week to say they'd been victims of racism at Barneys. Trayvon Christian, a 19-year-old African American man, told the New York Post he was questioned by undercover cops and accused of fraud after purchasing a $350 designer belt at the store.

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Kayla Phillips, 21, said she too was recently subjected to similar scrutiny when buying an expensive handbag.

The incidents have sparked a Change.org petition calling for Jay-Z to pull out of his upcoming collaboration with the retailer. Barneys is scheduled to carry the rapper's line, "A New York Holiday," this season.

"We can no longer tolerate blatant prejudice and discrimination," the petition, which has more than 16,000 signatures, says. "Jay-Z should be appalled by Barneys actions, and withdraw all support from them. If he does this, he will send a clear message to all corporations that are likeminded, that this behavior cannot be tolerated any longer."

But Jay-Z posted a statement on his website over the weekend explaining his decision not to hastily back off the project.

"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 wrote. "Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?"

Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, said he's also hesitant to cancel the Barneys deal because a quarter of the profits are to be donated to his charity, the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation.

"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 wrote in a statement. "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 New York also released a statement regarding the controversy over the Jay-Z deal and the purported claims of racism.

"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. "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."

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