Amidst allegations of racial discrimination and a lawsuit against Barneys New York, fans are petitioning Jay Z to drop his “A New York Holiday” partnership with the luxury department store.
Two black shoppers, as reported by Reuters, were accused of theft after making high-end purchases in the same year. Trayvon Christian was detained by the NYPD after a Barneys salesperson became suspicious that he used a fraudulent credit card to purchase a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt. Kayla Phillips, 21, came forth yesterday about her experience of being questioned by police after purchasing an expensive Celine bag from Barneys.
Jay Z campaigned for the 99 percent during theOccupy Wall Street Movement by selling “Occupy All Streets” T-shirts, and now that 99 percent would like Jay to stand in solidarity again. Jay Z is facing pressure to drop his Barneys holiday partnership, but the rap mogul has remained silent on the allegations and lawsuit the store is contending with.
“Lifelong fan” Derick Bowers has spearheaded a Change.org petition that encourages Hova to send a signal to corporations that these racist and discriminatory actions will no longer be tolerated. Bowers has designed a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “Barneys New Slaves,” which at $25 is relatively cheaper than the ones Jay Z will endorse and benefits the Boys and Girls Club of America, to coincide with the protest. Fans cite how Jay Z came from the projects and dealing drugs to become a successful rap mogul with influence as a way to discourage major corporations from making negative assumptions about the buying power of Black shoppers.
Jay Z stands to earn millions more with his Barneys partnership, while most of his fan-base is unable to afford the items. The lowest item is a $70 cotton T-shirt, and an alligator strap watch costs $33,900. Surely, one-half of Forbe‘s richest celebrity couple could stand to pull his involvement from Barneys. However, Jay Z, who is in the middle of a worldwide tour, has stayed silent on the controversy. (Maybe he’ll go after Bowers on wax like he did Harry Belafonte.)
Mark Lee, CEO of Barneys New York, posted a statement on the group’s Facebook page that maintains that the retailer has a zero-tolerance discrimination policy and they are investigating these allegations.
UPDATE: Barneys CEO Mark Lee has agreed to meet with representatives from Al Sharpton‘s National Action Network, and Barneys has retained civil rights expert Michael Yaki to conduct a “thorough review of our practices and procedures as they relate to these matters to ensure that they reflect our continued commitment to fairness and equality.”