Jay Z 'Squandering' Opportunity Against Racial Profiling With Barneys Partnership, Petitioner Says

Petition urging Jay Z to split from Barneys up to 57,000

Nov. 19, 2013 — -- Plans by Jay Z to move forward with a Barneys collaboration despite calls to end his partnership over allegations of the store's racial profiling have angered a group of online petitioners.

They claim the hip hop artist is "squandering an opportunity to create substantive change."

Last month, Kayla Phillips, 21, of Brooklyn claims she was accused of credit card fraud and detained after buying a $2,500 Celine handbag at Barneys. Trayon Christian of Queens, N.Y., said he was detained and questioned when he bought an expensive belt at Barneys. Christian filed suit Oct. 11, accusing the store of racial profiling.

Jay Z, whose real name is Sean Carter, became the celebrity face of the Barneys incidents after a petition launched on Change.org asking him to end his partnership with the company amid the racial profiling allegations. The petition has over 57,000 signatures.

As he awaits the findings of the New York State Attorney General's office into the allegations of racial profiling, Carter said in his blog that a condition of the Barneys deal moving forward is a leadership role on the store's council that includes community leader Al Sharpton to discuss the store's policies.

In his blog, Carter said all of the proceeds from the sale of the collaboration will go to the Shawn Carter Foundation, instead of the 25 percent originally announced. In addition, the foundation will receive an additional 10 percent of all retail sales from Barneys New York stores nationwide and Barneys.com on Nov. 20. The company guarantees it will raise a minimum of $1 million for the foundation over time.

But the announcement is not good enough for Derick Bowers, 29, who started the petition.

"While I understand he did not ask for this to happen, and had good intentions when creating his partnership with Barneys New York, he chose to do what was best for himself and all entities attached to his name; and has decided to continue with this tainted partnership," Bowers, from Brooklyn, N.Y., said in a statement.

"While I applaud him for making demands of Barneys New York into giving 100 percent of the proceeds from his collection toward his foundation, rather than the previous 25 percent, I also realize that he is squandering an opportunity to create substantive change."

Bowers said he "will no longer look toward Jay Z."

"I'd rather spend my time creating action and change for ourselves," he said, announcing that he started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a public service announcement video to spread awareness of racial profiling.

A statement by Carter on his website on Friday said, "I am in a unique position to use my voice to affect change to this disturbing issue. The easy position would have been to walk away and leave policy making to others hoping that someone addresses the problem. I will not leave the outcome to others. I will take this into my own hands with full power to recommend, review and revise policies and guidelines moving forward. I am choosing to take this head on."

Read More: Jay-Z Defends Deal with Barneys After Fans Urge Rapper to Break Ties

In a statement, Barneys said it "welcomes Mr. Carter's leadership in addressing the important issue of racial profiling at retail establishments."

"Our partnership with JAY Z was born out of a mutual interest in advancing the Shawn Carter Foundation, which provides educational opportunities to young people facing socioeconomic hardship, and we remain fully committed to supporting this worthy cause," the company said in a statement on Friday.

"Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination," the company said on Friday. "While all of our investigations have been consistent in finding that no Barneys New York employee was involved in either of the deplorable situations concerning Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, an issue exists in our industry, and we intend to be part of the solution. As we have stated all along, if we learn any procedures or practices are not consistent with our zero-tolerance policy, we will immediately take corrective action including terminating those employees responsible."

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