Jay Z — under mounting pressure to sever his ties with Barneys New York after the luxury retailer was accused of racially profiling black customers — finally addressed the accusations on his Life + Times website by defending his business partnership with the brand over the weekend.
The rap mogul's statement came days after reports surfaced last week that two black customers, Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, said they had been subject to racial profiling by Barneys' employees. The backlash, which included a Change.org petition and Twitter movements, demanded Jay Z respond to the controversy in light of his highly-touted holiday collaboration with Barneys. While the brand's CEO Mark Lee issued a statement in which he offered his "sincere regret and deepest apologies," Jay Z remained silent until Saturday, Oct. 26.
"I move and speak based on facts and not emotion," he wrote under his birth name Shawn Carter. "I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys." Beyonce's husband then asked in reference to multiple local and national news headlines, "Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?"
The entrepreneur, 43, whose personal story includes him overcoming a life of crime on the streets of Brooklyn to becoming one of the most prolific entertainers and businessmen in the music industry, also wanted to make it "crystal clear" that the beneficiary of sales from the Jay Z x Barneys collaboration would be his charity, The Shawn Carter Foundation. "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," he wrote. "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."
Jay Z added he was forced into making a statement, which he did not want to do "without the full facts." Meanwhile, the hip-hop artist's Watch the Throne collaborator Kanye West had no problem blasting Barneys during an Oct. 25 concert in Las Vegas. "Don't touch anything in the store. Excuse me, that's that 'Can I help you sir?'" an incredulous Yeezy said on stage during his "New Slaves" performance. "That's that racial profiling out in front of Barneys and sh-t. Talking about, 'Did you steal that?'"
"I am against discrimination of any kind," Jay Z concluded. "But if I make snap judgements, no matter who it’s towards, aren’t I committing the same sin as someone who profiles?"
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