In his statement, Jay said that, while he opposes “discrimination of any kind,” he’s won’t make a decision about the future of the collaboration until after a meeting between community leaders and Barneys, because that would ultimately harm “all the people that stand a chance at higher education.” The rapper’s partnership with the retailer benefits his Shawn Carter Foundation, a charity that awards scholarships to students facing socio-economic hardships.
“If I make snap judgments, no matter who it’s towards, aren’t I committing the same sin as someone who profiles?” Jay asks in a statement posted over the weekend. “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.”
Since he made that statement on Saturday, the dialogue has certainly continued, with community activists like the Rev. Al Sharpton coming to his defense — while, at the same time, threatening a boycott if the retailer does not come up with an acceptable plan for ending discrimination when Sharpton’s National Action Network meets with Barneys execs on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, reaction to Jay’s comments have been mixed, with some expressing understanding, while others point out that, by temporarily siding with Barneys, the rapper is effectively turning his back on the community he came from — one that has supported him at every step on his rise to fame.
— Edyta (@Ja_Moi_I) October 28, 2013
Others think that Jay is missing an opportunity to use his celebrity to elicit genuine change, and, by extension, is short-changing the power of the hip-hop generation to have their voices be heard.
When Jay-Z boycotted Cristal he also influenced a decline in sales! I'm sure he got enough sense to do what he feels is right!
— D.J. Genius (@djgenius1) October 28, 2013
I'm sure whatever money The Shawn Carter Foundtaion might miss out on by ending Barney's deal can be covered in part by JAYZ's Bank account
— Miss Ange (@MissAngeOnAir) October 28, 2013
At the same time, some fans continue to stand by Jay, saying that, by waiting to see if the accusations of racial profiling are true, he’s demonstrating patience, and not losing sight of the partnership’s true purpose: to help those less fortunate.
Hmmm. If only the media held our politicians to the same standards that they're holding JayZ right now. http://t.co/XIcGug6Va8
— Gennette Cordova (@GNCordova) October 28, 2013
Some fans called on Jay to take a stronger stance against racial discrimination, in effect, to choose community over commercial interests.
Rap mogul Jay-Z is still mute after the Barneys'alleged racial discrimination. Is business more important than your community? I miss 2pac
— SAIKOU (@MAKAVELISMATIC) October 28, 2013
— Brionna Jimerson (@BrionnaJay) October 28, 2013