- (PHOTO) REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Shawn "Jay Z" Carter, the 43-year-old rap mogul, is defending himself after coming under fire for his decision to work with Barneys department store following claims that they racially profiled a customer.
A black male college student is filing a lawsuit against Barneys after alleging that he was racially profiled. After purchasing a $320 belt, Trayon Christian was arrested after two undercover New York Police Department officers got a tip from Barneys employees stating that Christian used a fraudulent debit card to make his purchase.
Since Christian did make his purchase legally, the store is being accused of racial profiling. After Jay Z announced that he would work with Barneys to release a holiday collection that would donate a portion of proceeds to his Shawn Carter Foundation, he came under fire.
While a petition was launched calling for the rapper to drop his ties with the company,The New York Daily News blasted him on their cover with the headline, "Jay Z Under Pressure To Drop His Business Deal With Barneys Or Else He'll Have Zero Respect."After the paper hit newsstands, Jay Z took to his Life and Times website to defend himself.
The rap mogul insisted that he only wanted to work with the high end retailer to raise money for his foundation which helped low income individuals pursue higher education. He then explained why he has not been so quick to cut his ties with Barneys in the midst of the controversy surrounding the store.
"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," Jay Z said in a statement on his website. "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."
While the rap mogul insisted that his team is working to figure out if the store was indeed guilty of racial profiling, he said acting prematurely to end his deal with Barneys would only hurt those needing help from his foundation. Still, Jay Z empathized with victims of racial profiling.
"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," he questioned. "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."
The rap mogul previously appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher where he spoke about issues with the Socio-economic classes in the country.
"I don't really want to scare America but the real problem is that there's no middle class, so the gap between the haves and have nots is getting wider and wider," Jay Z told host Bill Maher. "It's gonna be a problem that no amount of police can solve because once you have that sort of oppression and that gap is widening, it's inevitable that something is going to happen."