Rap star Jay-Z answers critics of links to luxury store accused of racism

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Jay-Z is under pressure to drop a partnership with luxury store Barneys New York after two black customers were quizzed by detectives after buying expensive items.

The rap mogul made his first statement in a posting on his website.

He has been criticised for remaining silent after two young blacks said they were racially profiled by Barneys after buying items from its Manhattan store.

An online petition and Twitter messages from fans have been circulating, calling on the star to leave his partnership with Barneys for the festive season.

But Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter, said: “I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys,” he said.

“Why am I being demonised ... for not speaking immediately?”

He also dismissed reports that he would profit from the collaboration with Barneys. He says his Shawn Carter Foundation, which provides college scholarships to poorer students, will get 25 per cent of all sales.

He said he understood what it felt like to be racially profiled, but did not want to jump to unfair conclusions.

“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?” he said.

The two Barneys customers, Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, said they were detained by police. Mr Christian sued Barneys, saying he was accused of fraud after using his debit card to buy a $349 (£217) Ferragamo belt in April.

Ms Philips filed a notice of claim saying she would sue after she was stopped by detectives outside the store when she bought a $2,500 (£1,550) Celine handbag.

Barneys said it had retained a civil rights expert to help review its procedures. Chief executive Mark Lee has offered his “sincere regret and deepest apologies”.

Jay-Z has in the past called for a boycott of labels perceived to be racist. He has spoken out about the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin and campaigned for President Barack Obama.