Despite Al Sharpton’s call for a boycott on department store Barney’s over allegations of racial profiling, Sharpton defended rapper Jay-Z from charges of being a racial sellout for his relationship with Barneys. Jay-Z runs a campaign along with Barneys in which Barneys sells products inspired by Jay-Z, with some profits going to Jay-Z’s charity. Jay-Z, who has in the recent past claimed that George Zimmerman racially profiled and murdered Trayvon Martin, now says that he wants to wait and see on the charges related to Barneys: “I move and speak based on facts and not emotion. I haven't made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?... The negligent, erroneous reports and attacks on my character, intentions and the spirit of this collaboration have forced me into a statement I didn't want to make without the full facts.”
Jay-Z continued, “I am against discrimination of any kind but if I make snap judgments, no matter who it's towards, aren't I committing the same sin as someone who profiles? 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."
Sharpton, who is leading a shakedown against Barneys, defended Jay-Z, saying that the story wasn’t about Jay-Z. “Some people want to make this about Jay-Z,” Sharpton said. “No, this is about Barneys first.” Sharpton says that Barneys works with the NYD to “collude” against minorities. Said Sharpton: “What is the collusion between the NYPD and your security that four blocks away from the store, the NYPD stops somebody that bought something in your store? We call 911 and can’t get no response. Somebody spent over two grand, and you pick them up four blocks later.”
Kirsten John Foy, head of Sharpton’s National Action Network Brookly office, defended Jay-Z too: “There’s a lot of talk about whether or not Barneys should be doing business with certain black people. I think it’s a racist notion to assume that the only black person Barneys does business with is Jay Z. We’re not there to focus on Jay Z. Jay-Z did not write the corporate policy at Barneys. Jay-Z is just like every other business man, he is there to make money and if he is the only black business man that does business with Barneys – that is the problem.”