Barneys' 'Racism' Threatens Jay-Z's Street Cred

Posted: Oct 31, 2013 12:01 AM
Barneys' 'Racism' Threatens Jay-Z's Street Cred

"World War II Vets Under Attack by Blacks." Can you imagine such a headline in The New York Times -- or anywhere else, except perhaps some in underground racist tract?

But for the second time in three months, an 80-plus-year-old WWII veteran was murdered by black suspects. In Washington, 88-year-old Delbert Belton, who fought and took a bullet to the leg at the Battle of Okinawa, was beaten to death by two black teen suspects. The motive? Police describe the killing as a random attack. In Mississippi, 87-year-old Lawrence E. Thornton, a WWII vet who served as a Navy fireman on a minesweeper, was beaten to death by four black suspects. The motive was robbery.

Even if the vets were racially targeted -- and there is no evidence that they were -- it would be absurd to say that white World War II vets "are under attack" by "black people" because of the bad behavior of some individuals who happen to be black. Yet this is the reasoning the Rev. Jesse Jackson applied following the black teen's death in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case. Jackson, angry when he heard the news of Martin's death, said, "Blacks are under attack."

This brings us to the accusation of "blatant prejudice and discrimination" by the upscale department store, Barneys New York.

In February, plainclothes NYPD cops stopped a black woman and falsely accused her of credit card fraud after she bought a $2,500 Celine handbag. The shopper filed a "notice of claim," announcing her intention to sue. And in April, a black shopper used a debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt. He, too, was falsely accused of fraud.

Now things get even more interesting.

Rapper and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z had entered into a deal with Barneys. A Jay-Z curated, limited-edition collection of designer clothes and accessories rolls out this holiday season, with part of the proceeds going to charity.

A hyper left-wing organization called Color of Change put out an "open letter" appealing to Jay-Z. Another group,, set up an online petition that calls on Jay-Z to denounce Barneys' "blatant prejudice and discrimination." Some Jay-Z fans now call him a "sell-out" and "Uncle Tom" for giving cover to a racist institution for money. Through his website, Jay-Z said that before he reacted with "emotion," he wanted to get the "facts."

Enter the Rev. Al Sharpton, who never lets "facts" get between him and a race card.

Sharpton, of course, shot to fame by falsely accusing a white man of raping a black teenager; was in the middle of the Crown Heights riots ("If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house"); once called the black mayor of New York an "N-word whore"; and spoke of whites moving into Harlem as "interlopers" and Jews as "diamond merchants." He steps in to calm the waters?!

"Some people want to make this about Jay-Z," Sharpton told reporters, "No, this is about Barneys first." He demanded Barneys "bring the data" to prove that when expensive purchases are made, the store investigates white and minority shoppers equally. Barneys, warned Sharpton, better gather the information quickly and not use the busy holiday season as an excuse. "We'll march all the way down to your store," said Sharpton. "I'll serve turkey right on the corner."

For race hustlers and the eternally aggrieved, Barneys did not unfairly treat a handful of shoppers. No, it's an institutional problem. Anecdotes equal evidence. The election and reelection of President Barack Obama has not stopped so-called "civil rights leaders" from treating America like it's still the back-of-the-bus '50s.

For those who argue racism remains a deep and persistent problem, consider this. Attorney Johnnie Cochran argued that the LAPD had it out for O.J. Simpson because, according to Cochran, Simpson broke the final taboo by marrying a blond, blue-eyed white woman. A few years ago, "Desperate Housewives" ran a sex-themed promo during Monday Night Football. It featured blond actress Nicollette Sheridan and prominent football wide-receiver Terrell Owens. Clad only in a white towel, Sheridan teased and flirted with Owens.

The Federal Communications Commission claimed it received 50,000 complaint letters -- a tiny amount compared to total viewership. But a Freedom of Information request discovered that, in fact, the FCC received fewer than 2,000 letters, with less than 100 -- or less than 5 percent of that total -- saying anything about race.

Let's do the numbers. Out of 17,000,000 viewers, 2,000 bothered to write. Of that, only 100 complained about the promo being racially offensive. That comes to about 5 percent of the .01 percent that wrote -- or a little over .0005 percent of viewers.

Now the discriminated Barneys' customers have already sought legal counsel. Barneys has announced an investigation. Without waiting for the results, Barneys' CEO issued an apology. To ensure that the store keeps its "commitment to fairness and equality" and "zero tolerance for any form of discrimination," Barneys has retained a respected "civil rights expert."

Just tell us it isn't Sharpton.

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