Earlier this fall, Jay Z and Barneys announced a collaborative holiday collection, a curated assortment of goods from high-end designers like Balenciaga, Proenza Schouler, Lanvin and Rick Owens, with 25% of proceeds benefitting the Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship. After a recent racial profiling lawsuit against Barneys’ Madison Ave flagship store, community leaders and online petitioners called for Jay Z to discontinue the collection and boycott the luxury retailer. Over the weekend, Jay Z issued a statement addressing the controversy on his Life + Times site. In the letter, he defended his decision to proceed with the collection:
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…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 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.
Kanye West also weighed in on the Barneys controversy, making an impromptu speech over a piano instrumental at a Friday Las Vegas tour stop. “You see there’s broke nigga racism. That’s that don’t touch anything in the store. Excuse me, that’s that ‘Can I help you sir?’ That’s that racial profiling out in front of Barneys and shit. Talking bout did you steal that?” he said. Watch the speech: