Barneys Apologizes to Jay Z and Shoppers over Racial Profiling Controversy

Photo Credit: Christopher Victorio/Facebook
Photo Credit: Christopher Victorio/Facebook

By: Amanda Anderson-Niles

There’s been a lot of talk about the controversy surrounding retailer heavyweight Barneys, and rapper Jay Z has found himself a target of the scandal too since he has a deal with the store to release a holiday collection. And that’s one of the reasons an online petition was created urging the rapper to cut his ties with the company since it has been accused of racially profiling two black shoppers. Jay Z released a statement and said he would not be fast to make a decision because he needs to get all the facts first, but lawsuits against the store and the NYPD are already pending. And it’s also been confirmed that more African Americans are coming forward and a class action lawsuit against Barneys looks like a strong possibility as well for the retailer.

The CEO of Barneys is speaking out on the situation and he actually apologized to Jay Z and the shoppers who went public with what they claim were tragic experiences fueled by their race. Mark Lee tells reporters:

“No one, and I mean no individual, should go through the unacceptable experiences described by Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips. We offer our deepest sympathies to both of them.

“We deeply regret that these recent events have distracted from the great work of the Sean Carter Foundation, and we offer our sincere apologies to Mister Carter.

“Our collaboration together is based on the shared mission of helping individuals facing socio-economic hardships.”


The CEO also claims that the store is not responsible for the racially motivated incidents that took place with the shoppers and he hinted that the real fault lies on the the NYPD for jumping to conclusions:

“Our preliminary investigation has concluded that, in both of these instances, no one from Barneys New York raised any issue with these purchases. No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of our internal security, and no one from Barneys reached out to external authorities.

“Racial profiling is an extremely serious form of discrimination. We take it very seriously, and if we found that to be factually true we would terminate those individuals. That’s not the policy at Barneys.

“If, in fact, NYPD takes it upon themselves to profile, that needs to be dealt with by retailers.”


  1. Bullsh-t. Now we’re supposed to believe the NYPD did all this by themselves when they were working for the store? GTFOH.

  2. And the finger pointing begins. Barneys will say it’s the NYPD’s fault and the NYPD will say it’s Barneys fault. Smh.

  3. The truth is they hooked up with Jay Z because they want to appeal to black consumers. This “apology” here and refusal to take responsibility for what happened will just continue to burn the bridge with black shoppers. I know I won’t shop there now. I can’t support a company that puts all the blame on someone else.

  4. I would have liked it better if they took some responsibility too. Not just blame the NYPD. I guess that was jost too much to ask for.

  5. I see straight through this BS only reason why this CEO is apologizing is because it’s bad for business. He knows Jay is taking a lot of flack for being associated with them. This apology means nothing. I never shop at Barneys anyway I like Nordstrom and Neiman and I hope they are on notice because if this ish happens with them they will lose a customer.

  6. this thing becomes ,ore about Jay Z than about Barneys or NYPD. his face splash across newspaper for something he has no clue about. its the white media character assassination of the black man.

    I did not expect anymore from Barneys,because their is a law suite pending.

  7. To be fair to Barney’s, this is a result of one individual employee of one store, not the branch in general. If a single cashier is racist at a single Taco Bell, it doesn’t make Taco Bell racist. This wasn’t Barney’s rulebook, it wasn’t like in the rules it said “make sure the young black kids don’t steal are stuff.” If I owned a chain of Barney’s that had over 30 stores, and something like this happened at one individual store, I wouldn’t feel like that made me racist, simply because it doesn’t. No business owner should be held liable for the actions of every single individual employee. It should be the individual employee that is on blast right now, not the business.

    1. our*. This all being said, Nordstrom clearly is the better place to shop anyways IMO. I never bought into Barney’s because quite simply Nordstrom is more stylish and modern. As for business casual/work clothes I prefer Banana Republic over Neiman. However if you prefer Barney’s there is absolutely no reason to boycott them for one individual’s poor decision making.

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