Now that a second black Barneys customer has come forward to share a tale of racist treatment by the luxury outlet, saying she was "attacked" by cops and accused of credit card fraud after buying a $2,500 designer bag, Jay Z is taking some of the heat.
The rapper recently partnered with the store for A New York Holiday, a Christmastime promotion that will donate a quarter of its profits to Hov's Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. But, as the New York Daily News notes, fans and others outraged by the store's actions are calling on Jay to cancel the deal. Among them is Derick Bowers, a Brooklyn man whose Change.org petition is quickly amassing thousands of signatures. As Bowers argues:
Barneys lacks any connection with the black and hip-hop community. And 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 likeminded, that this behavior cannot be tolerated any longer.
Certainly Jay Z should find a way to axe the deal—or at least respond to the allegations swirling around the company (so far he's been silent). But will he?
Considering his promotion-heavy year and how much this particular one is worth for the rapper, that seems unlikely: the deal is worth millions, highlighting items as high-end as a $33,900 alligator-strap watch, a cashmere blanket, and a $675 rain coat with gold snaps. Though miles beyond Jay Z's Brooklyn roots, those items dovetail nicely with the luxury boasts that pervade the rapper's latest LP, Magna Carta Holy Grail, largely to the detriment of insight or social commentary. (The album was itself the product of a controversial promotional deal with Samsung that rubbed plenty of fans the wrong way.)
Still, the Barneys deal has more to offer Jay than merely supplementing his vast wealth: by pouring money into his foundation, it will yield dozens of scholarships for students with high financial need. (Last year the organization awarded over $1 million in scholarships.)
Not that any of that erases the association of Jay Z, who only months ago shared his outrage over the George Zimmerman verdict, with pervasive racism. But his corporate sponsorships are a machine in and of themselves, and if his silence thus far suggests anything, it's that the wheels will keep grinding.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.