Back in September, it was announced that Jay Z and luxury department store Barneys New York would launch a collaborative holiday collection later this year and that the rapper would be instrumental in curating their iconic holiday window display. But last week, the store and the NYPD were hit with a racial discrimination lawsuit by 19-year-old college student Trayon Christian, who had been arrested by undercover cops in the Madison Avenue shop back in April after purchasing a $350 belt that reportedly a sales clerk believed was a fraudulent transaction. Following the news of the lawsuit, more people have come forward claiming to be profiled in the store. Along with this, outrage struck, including on the cover of The Daily News, that Jay Z had stayed silent about his work with Barneys. On Saturday, the rapper released a statement through his website Life+Times assuring people that much of the profit from the collection goes to charity and that he will meet with a community board and Barneys executives to discuss where to go from here. Read the entire piece below.
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.