An Open Letter To Jay-Z: One Factor You might Say About Barneys That may Matter

It’s unfortunate however, in the end, Jay-Z, you are going to have to say one thing.

Salvatore Ferragamo Black DNobody should blame you for slicing a promotional deal — launching an exclusive vacation collection — with Barneys just earlier than a racial profiling scandal exploded at the luxury Manhattan department retailer. As one in every of your most well-known songs reminds us, you’re not a mind-reader.

But they’ll blame you. Timing is everything and the seeming hypocrisy of a rapper who’s rhymed about racial profiling and police misconduct now promoting a $33,000 watch on the infamous division retailer is too juicy of a headline to ignore.

And, to be fair, it has been a number of days now because the information broke that Trayon Christian, a 19-yr-outdated engineering pupil from Queens, is suing Barneys and the NYPD for racial discrimination after purchasing a $349 Ferragamo belt from the store. He was stopped simply after exiting, handcuffed and detained in a jail cell till the police ran out of causes to keep holding him.

It’s been a number of days, too, for the reason that observe-up story of Kayla Phillips, a 21-year-outdated nursing scholar, who was swarmed by undercover cops after shopping for a designer handbag at the identical retailer back in February. She too is planning to sue Barneys and the police.

Barneys itself has gone into crisis management mode, issuing an announcement acknowledging that the remedy of the 2 consumers was unacceptable and hiring a civil rights attorney to guide a overview of its fairness and equality practices.

But still no phrases from you, Jay-Z — some of the prolific wordsmiths of a generation.

To be honest with you, I couldn’t care less whether you keep Barneys’ money. It won’t change a reality of greater than 700,000 people — largely Black and Latino — stopped and frisked by the NYPD in a single year. It will not change the fact that our culture encourages the criminalization of communities of coloration. However I do imagine that you just, along with the remainder of Black America, need to know extra about what’s taking place exterior these division store home windows — so many unanswered questions stay.

We should know more about the opposite 50 individuals arrested close to the retail outlet — who they’re, the racial make-up of the group. Whether or not they were eventually charged or let go? And what was Barneys’ function, if any, in those arrests?

That’s why ColorOfChange members are calling on NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to conduct a full investigation into the arrests. Others are speaking out as well. Rev. Sharpton and the National Action Network have demanded a gathering with Barneys’ executives and a petition, urging you to reconsider your contract has already made headlines.

Must you break your silence, maybe you could communicate out and be part of us in holding the NYPD accountable too.

It may be only a forty five-minute subway experience from Brooklyn to the Barneys flagship on the Upper East Aspect, however you of all people know simply how long that journey actually feels. Throughout your profession, you’ve been the voice of a generation of Black males who each day endure profiling and harassment from police officers.

Why cease speaking now?

Rashad Robinson is govt director of ColorOfChange — the nation’s largest online civil rights organization. Sign the web petition demanding an NYPD investigation into the arrests right here.

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