October 28, 2013 14:45

Jay Z defends himself against Barneys racism row

The rapper has come under fire for keeping his partnership with the store, which is embroiled in a civil rights controversy

Jay Z defends himself against Barneys racism row

Photo: Tom Martin/NME

Jay-Z has defended his collaboration with US retailer Barneys, which is currently embroiled in a race row.

The rapper published a blog defending his ongoing partnership with the department store as New York's brewing "shop-and-frisk" row escalates. Major retailers Barneys and Macy's are accused of profiling black shoppers who say they were detained by police after buying luxury items.

"I move and speak based on facts and not emotion," the statement reads. "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 demonised, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?" he said, referring to local newspaper headlines.

"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 continued. "I am no stranger to being profiled and I truly empathise with anyone that has been put in that position. Hopefully this brings forth a dialogue to effect real change."

Jay Z has faced mounting pressure to back out of his collaboration with Barneys with fans tweeting the rapper and an online petition circulating calling on him to withdraw his association with the store, Billboard reports.

This Christmas, the store is due to sell items by designers inspired by Jay Z with the proceeds going to his charity. He is also working with the store to create its holiday window display. His statement says he is "not making a dime" from the collaboration.

Two Barneys customers, Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, said last week that they were detained by police after buying designer goods in the shop. They are both suing the department store.

Last week (October 24), the CEO of Barneys, Mark Lee, offered his "sincere regret and deepest apologies". The company has said it has employed a civil rights expert to review its policies.

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