Jay Z issued a response on Saturday to petitioners who have urged him to call off his clothing deal with Barneys New York on the heels of reports of racial profiling of two of the high-end store’s New York City customers.
The rapper posted a statement on his website LifeandTimes.com that explains, "This collaboration lives in a place of giving and is about the [Shawn Carter] 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 rapper says 25 percent of all sales from the partnership will be donated to the Shawn Carter Foundation, which provides scholarships to students in need. He explains that 10 percent of all sales generated in the store when the line debuts on November 20 will also be donated.
Jay Z says that Barneys, for whom he's also creating its holiday display, promised to make an additional donation. He notes, "My idea was born out of creativity and charity… not profit."
Earlier this year, an African-American college student named Trayon Christian was arrested in Manhattan after purchasing a $349 Ferragamo belt at Barneys New York. An employee at the retailer reportedly called police because she feared the debit card transaction was fraudulent.
Twenty-one-year-old Kayla Phillips later claimed she was stopped by police and questioned after buying a $2,500 designer bag from the store. She also said she was accused of using a fraudulent card.
The publicity and outrage surrounding the alleged profiling prompted "lifelong Jay Z fan" Derick Bowers to start a petition on Change.org in an effort to get Jay Z to "withdraw his support" and end his business relationship with Barneys.
However, Jay Z explains, "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," He adds, "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."
The rapper concludes, "I am against discrimination of any kind, but if I make snap judgments, 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."
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