Jay Z Takes “Leadership” Role in Barneys’ Racial Profiling Case

Jay Z in his HBO film “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film”

Jay Z in his HBO film “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film”

New York—Rapper mogul Jay Z says he’s continuing his holiday collaboration, which launches Wednesday, with Barneys New York despite calls for him to sever his relationship with the retailer following allegations of racial profiling by staff in its flagship.

While Jay Z said he’s still waiting to hear the outcome of the New York State attorney general’s office investigation into the charges, he will continue the collaboration. He also said he would be a leader in solving the controversy and will sit on a council “specifically convened to deal with the issue of racial profiling.”

However, Barneys cancelled the launch party for the collection that was scheduled for Wednesday at the Madison Avenue flagship store. “Due to unforeseen circumstances, the event has been cancelled,” Barneys said in a statement.

Barneys Increases Donation to Jay Z’ Foundation

Barneys—and Jay Z—have been under scrutiny since last month when two young African American shoppers complained that has been stopped, frisked and even taken into the police station after making legitimate purchases in the store. Subsequently, similar racial profiling charges were made against Macy’s, which also is being investigated by the NY attorney general.

But Jay Z said he remained committed to the collaboration, which benefits his Shawn Carter Foundation, which provides aid to “individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning.”

“I am in a unique position to use my voice to affect change to this disturbing issue,” Jay Z said. “The easy position would have been to walk away and leave policy making to others hoping that someone addresses the problem. I will not leave the outcome to others. I will take this into my own hands with full power to recommend, review and revise policies and guidelines moving forward. I am choosing to take this head on.”

Jay Z who denied he makes any money off the collaboration also noted that his foundation will now received 100% of the proceeds from the sales of the collection, up from 25% as previously announced.

Additionally, 10% of all sales at Barneys’ stores nationwide and barneys.com will go to the Shawn Carter Foundation with a guarantee of raising a minimum of $1 million.

Noting that its chief executive and others had met with Rev. Al Sharpton, Marc Morial, The Retail Council of New York and other community leaders to address these racial issues, Barneys issued a statement reiterating its zero policy toward any type of discrimination.

“As we have stated all along, if we learn any procedures or practices are not consistent with our zero-tolerance policy, we will immediately take corrective action including terminating those employees responsible,” Barneys statement said.

“Moving forward, Mr. Carter’s (Jay Z) leadership in this process will further strengthen the industry’s ability to ensure that anyone who walks into a retail establishment is treated equally and with respect. We welcome Mr. Carter’s input and recommendations to our future policies and guidelines.”

Macy’s Faces Allegations Too

In the wake of the Barneys controversy, another lawsuit was filed against Macy’s Inc. alleging that Robert Brown, an actor on HBO’s “Treme,” also was a victim of racial profiling.

Brown, who is African American, said purchased a $1,300 Movado watch at Macy’s and while shopping for sunglasses was stopped by three men, apparently New York City police officers who accused him of committing credit card fraud.

“They cuff me, parade me around the store, all the while maintaining, ‘we do this all the time, it’s a fake card, you’re going to go to jail,’” Brown said on Oct. 29 while recounting the incident on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

Court documents state that Brown was put into a holding cell enclosed by metal bars for more than an hour and “berated and mocked by these men.”

Macy’s declined comment since it refers to a pending litigation.

 

Like this? Share it!


Jeff Prine, Editor at Large, Accessories Magazine
Jeff returns as a regular contributor to Accessories magazine. Initially Jeff worked as senior editor at Accessories more than 20 years ago and his love of the industry has followed him until present. Since his tenure here, Jeff has continued to report jewelry, watch and other luxury goods trends as executive editor at Modern Jeweler magazine, fashion director at Lustre, and as contributor on products and trends for consumer and trade publications and websites. In addition to his editorial experience, Jeff also served as an adjunct instructor for accessories merchandising at Fashion Institute of Technology. jeffp@busjour.com

The Ad Will Close In 15 Seconds - Skip This Ad