This week, jaws dropped when they learned of an alleged racial profiling incident that took place at Barney’s earlier this year. In short, a 19-year-old young man named Trayon Christian has accused the high-end retail store of racial profiling. According to the engineering student from Queens, he bought a $349 Ferragamo belt at Barneys and was promptly collared by undercover cops, who asked,
‘How could you afford a belt like this? Where did you get this money from?’
He has filed a lawsuit after he was targeted by staffers. So exactly what does this have to do with Jay Z (real name Shawn Carter)? The mega rap star/business is being urged by son to cut ties with Barneys. Reportedly, Barneys and Jay-Zare poised to introduce a collection of high-end merchandise created especially for Barneys by the rapper. According to ABC, items range from a $70 T-shirt to a Shawn Carter watch by Hublot (with black alligator straps) priced at $33,900. The collection is scheduled to debut Nov. 20 at Barneys stores in Manhattan, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston. The rapper is also scheduled to design a special window display at the Manhattan store to promote the merchandise. A fraction of the sales from the collection (to be called “A New York Holiday”) would go to Jay Z’s charity, which provides scholarships to needy students. Since news hit about the lawsuit, Jay has remained relatively mum. Over the weekend, he released the following statement:
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
What are your thoughts on Jay’s stance thus far? And should he continue his relationship with Barneys? [Page Six, Life & Times]