Should Jay-Z Cut Ties with Barneys?

AP Photo

As a department store, Barneys New York is known for being exclusive.

The iconic brand has a reputation for embracing select (read: wealthy) patrons.  But the racial profiling that Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips  reportedly faced at the Manhattan store is disappointing on many levels.

After all, in both cases, there money was green.

But there is a detail we must not miss as we follow these developments .  On Nov. 20, Jay-Z is launching a holiday capsule collection with the brand.   With items ranging from $70 to a $33,000+ Hublot watch, this is no small exertion for Barneys…  It’s also a big move for the rapper and entrepreneur, who was donating a portion of the proceeds from those sales to the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation.

So why the seeming racism toward young men and women with the same skin shade as Mr. Carter?  And now that the specter of racial profiling has been raised, should one of Brooklyn’s native sons even move forward with these plans?

To paraphrase Jay, streets is watching.  In the days following news of the shoppers’ experiences, Derick Bowers created a petition called “Barneys New Slaves” urging Jay Z to cut ties with Barneys.  Bowers, who has attracted nearly 3,000 signatures to date, stated of his petition:

“We can no longer tolerate blatant prejudice and discrimination. It is clear that the minority buying power is devalued by some. We must withdraw support to those who will not support us.”

It would be great to hear some words from the man himself regarding the situation.

While we wait, let me say that these shopping incidents are uncalled for, inappropriate, and another fork in the road of Black in America still dealing with sudden racism in a day and age in which the last thing we should have to worry about is making an exorbitant purchase they worked so hard to earn.

Possibly, the next time we feel the urge to make such retail runs, let’s think carefully about whether the brands and businesses we support love us back.

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