Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for Jay Z to end his collaboration with Barneys after two African-Americans came forward with lawsuits accusing Barneys and the NYPD of racial profiling this week.
The online protest at Change.org, began by Derick Bowers, reads,
“Without his vast wealth and brand power, they would see him the same as they see Trayon Christian, Jay Z should be appalled by Barneys’ actions, and withdraw all support from them. If he does this, he will send a clear message to all corporations that are like minded, that this behavior cannot be tolerated any longer.”
Bowers also created a T-shirt that reads “Barneys New Slaves.” The shirt design references Kanye West’s “New Slaves” song.
“You see it’s broke nigga racism, that’s that, ‘Don’t touch anything in the store,'” West raps on the track. “And it’s rich nigga racism, that’s that ‘Come in, please buy more.'”
Bowers’ shirt is on sale for $25 and all proceeds are slated to go to the Boys and Girls Club of America, according to Complex.com. The t-shirt design can be viewed below.
Jay Z has yet to comment on the controversy.
UPDATE: Jay Z has released a statement over the controvery. Via his Life & Tine website, he writes:
A Statement From Shawn “JAY Z” Carter
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. – Shawn “JAY Z” Carter