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Rapper Jay Z keeps clothing line at Barneys despite claims of racial profiling

American rapper Jay-Z performs at Bercy stadium in Paris, October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
American rapper Jay-Z performs at Bercy stadium in Paris, October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper Jay Z said on Friday that he will go ahead with his clothing collaboration with upscale retail chain Barneys New York Inc, but will also join a council fighting racial profiling, as authorities investigate Barneys and other major retailers accused of discrimination against black shoppers.

Jay Z, 43, one of the best-selling rappers and an entrepreneur, collaborated with Barneys on the BNY SCC clothing label. Initially 25 percent of the proceeds were to go to Jay Z's foundation but not 100 percent of profits will be donated.

But Jay Z came under fire for his partnership when two black shoppers alleged they were detained by New York police and accused of fraud after buying luxury items in Barneys.

Jay Z, real name Shawn Carter, released a statement on his Life + Times website saying his team was being kept updated on the investigations of the two detained shoppers, and that he would sit on a council "specially convened to deal with the issue of racial profiling."

"I am in a unique position to use my voice to affect change to this disturbing issue. The easy position would have been to walk away and leave policy making to others hoping that someone addresses the problem. I will not leave the outcome to others," he said.

"I will take this into my own hands with full power to recommend, review and revise policies and guidelines moving forward. I am choosing to take this head on," the rapper added.

Barneys has also pledged to donate 10 percent of all retail sales from Barneys stores nationwide and online on November 20 to Jay Z's foundation.

Barneys said the amount the company would raise for the foundation on November 20 would amount to at least $1 million.

"Moving forward, Mr. Carter's leadership in this process will further strengthen the industry's ability to ensure that anyone who walks into a retail establishment is treated equally and with respect," the company said in a statement. "We welcome Mr. Carter's input and recommendations to our future policies and guidelines."

Barneys is being investigated alongside Macy's Inc in what has become known as "shop-and-frisk," as multiple reports emerged of black shoppers allegedly being detained due to racial profiling.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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