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Swiss apologize for encounter Oprah calls racist

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By JOHN HEILPRIN

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@Mark - Oprah suggests that the fact she was black led to the sales assistant to conclude that she couldnt afford the bag in question. If that is the case then it is racism. How that is proven is going to be difficult. The sales assistant will (im sure) say that oprah looked like she couldnt afford it and that skin color was irrelevant.

@Elbuda - you need something spelled out for you - Oprah is American and she is only famous in her own country. To suggest that the whole world should know who OPRAH! is ignores the fact that she isnt a prime time celebrity outside of America and the countries around America. The sales assistant clearly didnt know who she was.

16 ( +18 / -3 )

I call foul. Oprah is heavily promoting this movie, which heavily emphasizes the racist aspects of being a black butler in the white house.

As such, she's using any and all examples to sniff out racism where none exist, so she can promote her movie.

It's all business folks.

But once you jump that "race card" shark, ain't no going back.

13 ( +19 / -6 )

How is this labeled racist. Concluding that a caucasian clerk and a black customer that perhaps had misunderstanding is automatically labeled racist!

Maybe Oprah is accustomed to being catered to and praised like a goddess and not in Trois Pommes did she collude racism?

10 ( +21 / -11 )

The sales assistant clearly didnt know who she was.

Exactly so. More than likely, this was a misunderstanding.

Most of Europe, including Switzerland, is far less racist than the United States. Tina Turner is a good example of an artist who has emigrated there and thrived. Earlier examples include Josephine Baker and the writer, James Baldwin. There are many more. Baldwin's writings about feeling free from the racism that weighed so heavily on him in NYC are extremely perceptive and instructive.

Serving in Europe had a profound impact on many black GIs during WWI and WWII, getting a taste for what it was like to be well-served by a white establishment while Jim Crow reigned at home. Many came home expecting to be treated with the same deference and respect. Some were lynched while still in uniform.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

The whole country had to apologize for the actions of one clerk?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

These types of boutiques pride themselves on being 'exclusive', catering to the tastes of a select few and pricing the riff-raff out. That is an essential aspect of their appeal. This isn't your garden-variety LV, Rolex or Gucci which I'm sure the patrons of this kind of store would turn up their noses at. To be brutally honest, I think many of these types wouldn't like to see nouveau riche black women with these goods in the first place. As I said, I think this incident was based on her race, and possibly A celeb's bruised ego, but that is almost inevitable in this kind of atmosphere.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

My friend used to manage a jewelry shop in Hong Kong that was regularly patronized by Michael Jackson, who used to drop big bucks there. He certainly got VIP treatment -- to his face -- but my friend reveled in giving me an earful about how weird he was. But she never said anything derogatory about him being black -- he was just weird.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The predictable racism in 'soccer' point is about as relevant as quoting the number of black people in US jails in this case. I attended a football game in Italy and saw a group of knucklehead fascists abusing black players and lived in Texas where I encountered shocking attitudes towards black people from some neanderthals which belonged in the 50s. Hardly representative of US or European attitudes towards race. This is about the attitude of a clerk in a snotty boutique in Zurich which I doubt is representative of Zurich, never mind Switzerland or Europe. Silly generalizations and jingoistic point-scoring are irritating.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I just think it's stupid for anyone to spend that much money on a bag to carry stuff in, but we should all have the right to be stupid regardless of color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Somehow I cannot get all that upset over Oprah being mistreated at some super high priced luxury boutique. She is pampered and fawned over endlessly. In fact, I somewhat enjoy seeing the super rich brought down to earth every now an then. After all, she can take out a tiny fraction from her vault of cash buy the place and fire the lady if she's that upset about it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I'd be very careful about making generalizations about Swiss attitudes to race based on a clerk in a snobby boutique.

I agree. These sorts of shops profile their customers as a matter of course. If you look like you have the money, they could care less what color you are. Likewise, if you look like you don't have the money, they are going to condescend to you no matter what color you are. If anyone doubts this, I suggest they pick a city and enter any similarly priced boutique, dressed in their usual style, and try to handle merchandise that costs more than a regular family car. Stuck up folks is stuck up.

The reason people buy these obscenely priced, idiotic goods is to show themselves as belonging to a status above the norm. If Oprah Winifrey wants to buy into this crap, these are the people you'll encounter.

True, and well said. The difference in this instance is that Ms Winfrey is used to having her ass kissed long and hard in most any shop of this sort anywhere in the world. I think her real gripe here is that she got treated like regular folks.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Shops of luxury fashion and accessories don't let thousands of persons touch the actual merchandises, like they let you do at Costco with 8 dollar bags as later they discount the damaged ones to 4 dollars. It's routine to offer customers to touch/try on cheaper models with a similar shape.

If she were white, she would have been shown the bag.

I am never let to touch the bags for gold-d*ggers. Actually, that would be insulting to be taken for a vain person that would put 3 million of yen in a bag.

a customer like OPRAH!

A "customer like Oprah" is a serious pr*ck :

In 2005, she was turned away from a Hermes shop in Paris 15 minutes after closing time.

Normal, they do it for everybody. She thinks she is who ? She should try printing " $77 million in the year" on a t-shirt. And she planned doing the PETA campaign with her preserved dead crocodile at the hand ?

Swiss migration office to let the town impose “house rules” to limit access to schools and sports facilities

That's a real discrimination issue.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Yeah I'm sure if I walked into the store they'd show me the most expensive bags because I'm white.

telling one of the world’s richest women that she wouldn’t be able to afford it. Winfrey earned $77 million

Must be rough.

Most of Europe, including Switzerland, is far less racist than the United States.

Go to a soccer match and report back.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

During the TV interview, Winfrey said that “true racism is about being able to have power over somebody else,”

Then by her own definition she's being the true racist here. She's using her power as a celebrity to bully those poor sales staff.

For example:

It wasn’t the first time Winfrey has taken issue with treatment at a ritzy European boutique. In 2005, she was turned away from a Hermes shop in Paris 15 minutes after closing time. The store said it was closed for a private event.

... closing time is closing time Oprah. That means the time the store CLOSES. Even for YOU. They had another event, they gave you 15 minutes beyond the closing time, and then they asked you to leave. That's just good business. Employees have other stuff to do than wait around on you like you're some princess.

As for the Swiss incident, I'd say it probably had more to do with how she was dressed than her skin color. I've seen candid photos of Oprah when she's out and about in "everyday" settings and she tends dress very badly. The sales clerk probably took one look at what she was wearing, one look at the bag she was asking to see and decided that she probably would prefer a cheaper version that went better with what she was wearing.

In short, he wasn't being racist, he was saying she was dressed badly.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Seems to me this is rich people's problems. There's something about a lady making $77 million dollars a year saying she was treated unfairly. At some point everyone is treated unfairly but we don't talk about it from our penthouses.

Yabits: I think of members of my own family who immigrated from Poland to the Detroit area. By the time I was born and was growing up, I became aware of how deeply many in my family detested African-Americans.

Fascinating, but it has nothing at all to do with this story.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"a $38,000 handbag"

I've said it before, but I'll say it again - something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Goetz added that “I believe she rather said something like ‘we have some less expensive’ — ‘we also have some less expensive bags’ and not ‘it’s too expensive for you.’ “

So, you're going to go with what you believe someone MIGHT have meant instead of what they literally said while talking about miscommunications? I'm getting SO tired of people blaming the natural reactions to their moronic comments on 'miscommunications' or 'misunderstandings'.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I think Oprah is playing this up.

She met the store-owner previously at Tina Turners wedding as they are friends too Neither can I see any reference to her race or skins colour.

I am sure if she had asked yo speak to the store-owner or superior as most rational people would do things would have been sorted.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@Superlib I totally agree that the point Yabits made is not relevant to this story. Neither has racism in football.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Seems to me this is rich people's problems.

Yup. If someone told me I couldn't afford a ¥3.5million handbag, I'd congratulate them on their ability to point out the bloomin' obvious. If someone suggested I might want to buy a ¥3.5 million handbag, I'd find it very, very hard not to laugh in their face.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If you are a Japanese visiting Las Vegas, if you don;t wear old tennis shoes, you will be mistaken as a rich person. You go to big casino hotels, you miss to have a free Pepsi and Coca cola at Slot area. Old T-shirt does not work as billionaires wear t=shirt to look around expensive stores. Oprah? Hollywood stars? They will not be treated rich here. When I moved to nearby city, my daughters had to explain I am not a tourist in fancy stores.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I remember the movie pretty women same story at the department store, Julia Robert looking a formal dress to wear, the sales lady said ohh u can't afford this and out ! .... she was hurt and cry ... can't blame Oprah happen in real ! >>> skin color really a big deal even they were pretending no we are not racist ? but Question still there, i feel sorry for the black ppl who suffered for the discrimanation and for not treated well. :(

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Funny thing is that this would not have occurred in a high end boutique in Japan because the clerks treat everyone like a VIP whether they recognize you or not. Face is J-haters, you know it's true.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Ironically, a tour group of American students was asked to immediately leave a Swiss coo-coo clock etc. souvenir shop in Geneva. When asked why by the American teacher/guide, the owner said, "I have an appointment for 65 Japanese tourists here in my store in 15 minutes, and they certainly will spend more money than your students. Please leave." A 22 year-old Japanese citizen was in Graz, Austria, with the same teacher. A Japanese legal resident was rude to here and asked her to leave the same concert hall where Mozart had performed as a young man. When ask why, she replied in Japanese that the young lady was not old enough to appreciate the music. Discrimination occurs everywhere and in many forms.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

In my experience the most racist people have been black people and they are allowed to be racist to other people. Oprah is one of these people who find something to promote their "cause". She has an agenda which she plays well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think her real gripe here is that she got treated like regular folks.

Having worked in retail, it isn't a clerks job to tell a customer what they can and can't afford.

(That said, I never sold $38,000 handbags. Still...)

0 ( +3 / -3 )

“She said: ‘No, no, no, you don’t want to see that one. You want to see this one. Because that one will cost too much; you will not be able to afford that,’”

Funny as hell, it appears that someone needs to get better trained in customer satisfaction.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I am still waiting to hear how much the other bag she was told would be more affordable costs. Any store with $38,000 handbags was surely not even carrying $38 handbags that would be "more affordable to the black lady" (or probably even $380 bags). For someone used to VIP treatment anywhere, anything less than 100% satisfaction must have a sinister reason like racism behind it. I think if the clerk was such a 'racist' she would have not even let Oprah in the door.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There are two constants in Swiss politics; neutrality and xenophobia.

Swiss People's Party, the most popular party in Switzerland, is famous for their controversial "Sicherheit schaffen" poster showing white sheep kicking a black sheep out of the country.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spp-poster.jpg

0 ( +2 / -2 )

One of CNN revealed this is a No. 5 news in USA yesterday, It showed beautiful liht brown bag and black bag.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@hidingout

Totally out to lunch, as usual. Think real hard and try to imagine a scenario in which I could not particularly like someone and have those feelings be totally unrelated to race or gender.

Unfortunately that's not how things work in the alternative universe that some people now inhabit. Nowadays, if you disagree with someone on the Left you are automatically considered an evil racist. Period. End of discussion. Don't try explaining yourself or plead for them to listen to your logic. They can't hear you. Just ask Harry Reid:

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/09/harry-reid-hopes-its-not-racism/?_r=0

You are either with them or against them... Ouch!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Oprah is no longer "the Queen of daytime talk-TV" but she has a movie coming out. What better way to generate some publicity for herself than accuse somebody of racism? Oprah plays the race card every chance she gets. (This is a woman who managed to become a billionaire and hobnobs with the president of the US, a real victim of racism for sure).

0 ( +5 / -5 )

what about the asian are they treated well? now im afraid to go swizz i hate discrimination and racist !

0 ( +3 / -3 )

When Kevin Costner wanted to have a black established actress as his costar, producers did not want. He is from So. Ca. where white were minority. So he pushed and the movie was a hit/ Until that, black were discriminated in Hollywood . Then, in Las Vegas, years ago, when Frank Sinatra found Sammy Davis jr was escorted to employees door, Frank got mad at and he said no more shows there. Until that discriminated. In Calif, either black or white/ My children tried to register Yellow but White in DMV/ In Nevada, no race in DMV now. Women are still discriminated, not as bad as Japan though/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Elbuda

Yeah, if we jump to conclusions like you that would be the case. If you are referring to my post i said "most" blacks not all.

Can't see anyone sating Europe is more enlightened than the US except you except you should know that apartheid was in America not Europe.

Problem is racism is closely connected to low IQ and an honest look at IQ rates by race and nation would reveal that white Europe is not the problem, it is the elite with their divide and conquer policies.

Strange how poor repressed Oprah managed to get so rich and powerful of the world discriminates so much.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A spoiled diva who's ego took a bruising because the clerk dared to not recognize her...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The majority of black people are poor! The clerk most likely did not want to waste her time. In this case, the clerk was right to suppose this but made a blunder as Oprah is extremely wealthy..,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I read the story.

Afterall it is in the WORLD news section and must have some importance.

Oprah. blah, blah, blah, ..... Switzerland, blah, blah, blah,.... racism, blah, blah, blah,.... a $38,000 bag

No nothing stands out as unusual.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Looks like racism to me. That said, I'd be very careful about making generalizations about Swiss attitudes to race based on a clerk in a snobby boutique. The reason people buy these obscenely priced, idiotic goods is to show themselves as belonging to a status above the norm. If Oprah Winifrey wants to buy into this crap, these are the people you'll encounter.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

what makes you think Winfrey (who made $77 million last year) didn't look like she "had the money".

She must not have - on that day. Bad hair? No makeup? I have no idea because I wasn't there. Is it your suggestion that she did look like she had the money to spend but the sales staff waved her over to the cheap stuff anyway because the shop would rather discriminate against certain people than make sales? You realize how hilarious that sounds, right?

And you have this on good authority from........?

Its my opinion, hence prefaced with "I think". Its also the most logical conclusion, but you can feel free to assume racism anytime someone gets offended. I don't deny that its a possibility, however remote.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

If Oprah becomes Muslim, then she better not go to Switzerland at all. The doors would lock as she got close.

Hey, according to republicans racism has ended since Obama became President. Guess Zurich has not gotten that memo yet. Neither has large areas of the USA.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Hey, according to republicans racism has ended since Obama became President. Guess Zurich has not gotten that memo yet. Neither has large areas of the USA.

And according to Democrats, racism is holding blacks down forget its the crappy economy and how liberal policies and handouts, welfare and liberal, governmental dependence has destroyed the Black man and Black family in general. Blacks are suffering way more now than ever in history. Since Obama has been in office Blacks are worse off than ever n history and the astonishing thing is 98% voted for this guy. So if you think Europe is better than the US, I would have to say definitely NO.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Most of Europe, including Switzerland, is far less racist than the United States.

Go to a soccer match and report back.

superlib- you beat me to it. saying europe is less racist than america is just absurd. talking about lynching? get real. its 2013. yabits is so biased against america that its comical at this point.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Oprah, sometimes it is not racism it is common sense. I remember one time I was walking on Michigan Ave. in Chicago and I got tired and wanted to rest in an Art Store called Atlas and I was almost thrown out by a smiling clerk who knew that I didn't have the big bucks for their art. I called that common sense. I didn't look like I could afford any of their expensive art.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Winfrey said that “true racism is about being able to have power over somebody else,”

I totally reject Winfrey's definition. There are many ways of exercising power, and not all power is exercised in a manner that causes injustice or injury to another person.

She might get a lot our of reading the section of James Baldwin's book Notes of a Native Son, titled Stranger in the Village. It's about his visit to a Swiss village where he was the first black person the villagers had ever seen in the flesh.

Don't confuse the US's very visible struggles with the legacy of slavery as an indicator of some sort of unique level of racism.

First of all, racism certainly exists in Europe -- especially in places like England. But when comparing to the United States, where Ms. Winfrey's attitudes were formed, there are very great differences in kind and degree. I think of members of my own family who immigrated from Poland to the Detroit area. By the time I was born and was growing up, I became aware of how deeply many in my family detested African-Americans. Those feelings and attitudes were not brought with them from the old country. I have visited family in Poland and saw nothing like that at all in people.

No, they came and were "educated" on the societal norms of how whites were supposed to think and act in their adopted country.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"a $38,000 handbag"

I've said it before, but I'll say it again - something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

It's a bag. How can it be 'worth' more than many people earn in a year? Maybe the shop assistant meant to say that Oprah didn't look so stoopid as to want to spend that kind of money on a bag. Apparently the shop assistant was wrong.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Considering it was a high end store that probably caters to a lot of rich foreigners I doubt miscommunication was at fault in this particular scenario. If this were the Swiss version of JC Penney than I'd buy that argument in a heartbeat but at in a centrally located European country in an upper class store where the employees are probably expected to know the languages of their clients this story doesn't fly. You can practically see the dust flying from how hard that store owner was backpedaling.

I think of members of my own family who immigrated from Poland to the Detroit area. By the time I was born and was growing up, I became aware of how deeply many in my family detested African-Americans. Those feelings and attitudes were not brought with them from the old country. I have visited family in Poland and saw nothing like that at all in people.

Our perceptions are shaped by our experiences. My family is the same way, most families that lived in Detroit in the wake of the riots to the present have the same thing happen to them. Year after year of people normalizing stereotypes through anecdotes and seeing many of them fulfilled in your daily life can dangerously skew any person's perceptions after years of exposure. My principle residence is still in Detroit and I admit it happens to me too, but like everybody else I take a step back to re-contextualize my thoughts and I get over it.

But Europe is by no means better, whether they're black, Arab, Eastern European, or the Irish, and you get the same patterns of racism.

I'm in compliance but I we've had a few problems over the years in the Lyon office. During the height of the riots in 2005 we found out that they were throwing out the CV's of qualified black and Arab individuals, some of whom I had worked with at other companies and I vetted myself.

It's a bag. How can it be 'worth' more than many people earn in a year?

Easily. He was quite right in saying that something is worth what a person is willing to pay for it. When you get down to it a masterpiece work of art is just canvas and paint. I've never paid more than $300 for any single piece of attire (unless you count a 3 piece suit as a single unit) in my life but I recognize that some people are interested in more expensive designers as a matter of preference and status.

Two people walk into the store to buy a handbag. One offer $120, normal for a middle class American shopper, while the other offers $30,000. As far as the store is concerned that handbag is now worth $30,000.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The woman loves attention and i do not believe she is a victim of racism in this matter. I have a lot more disposable income than most imagine if i am judged by my usual attire. I have had similar situations happen to me in Europe and Japan and i am a white Anglo Saxon man.

Oprah was in Switzerland not 1980's South Africa, she knows how to exploit things to achieve things. She lets everyone know about her "good deeds" and revels in the applause from the plebs. I do not see her for her colour but as an attention seeking celeb and i do not like any of them.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Maybe this is her attempt to get back to crowded daytime talk show circuit? Cary, Joan Rivers are very busy and popular. Not because they are cuter than Oprah and have better body shape but their shows have different type guests. Maybe Oprah will have this Italian lady in her show or Cary will grab her.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sorry but there are plenty of honest to goodness people who wouldn't know you from a hole in the wall! now stop the dramatics & race-baiting & live & let live!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@602mike, Most black people in Europe do not suffer discrimination. Their is racial discrimination by all colours of people including blacks. You could say that Oprah is being racist for accusing the woman of people racist.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

We could also say those who are NOT black and try to tell us that blacks, etc..face NO racial discrimination in Europe (area of the world that gave birth to Adolf Hitler, Nazis, gassing millions of Jews etc..) so sure, we can be stupid and believe ignorant folk who want to tell us that everyone in Europe is "so enlightened and superior" to their lower class cousins who escaped to the USA, Australia etc..yeah right! Anyway, if you think Oprah is only known in the USA, just shows how ignorant some people here really are. I really doubt that pretty Switzerland is anything like Mississippi, Georgia or northern Florida, but that does not mean that Switzerland etc...may not have racists. Maybe time for Switzerland etc..to reflect a bit and ask themselves if they are really treating their tourists etc..as they would like to be treated when traveling abroad, etc...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I just watched our local FOX news (One of many Las Vegas news channels) that showed her old shows in which Oprah yelled "You just got a car" One was $25,000 car and other, she is still driving. The winners were on that show. The news of Oprah, this FOX brightened. I was expecting to hear story of San Diego mayor who are sued by several City emplloyees for sexual harrassment and new one is by a great grand mother. He is asking city to pay gis mental treatment, etc. So, some people receive a brand new car from Oprah was a change. Maybe she will repeat that kind of service to her fans again. people love Oprah in our area.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Maybe the store is used to have multi billionaires who have houses in many places including Swiss? Oprah is famous in USA and a smart business lady but not known in Swiss.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

not as hilarious as listening to someone explain away their thinly-veiled hatred for a successful black woman.

Totally out to lunch, as usual. Think real hard and try to imagine a scenario in which I could not particularly like someone and have those feelings be totally unrelated to race or gender. For example you are a white male I presume ....

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Ophra was NOT BORN filtly rich! She knows what is like to be poor, to be a poor African American in the USA, this is not a case of some super rich, corrupt daughter of Mugabe, etc..on some spending spree throughout Europe! Oprah has $$$ because she has worked her butt off for it and is RESPECTED because she tries to keep herself down to earth. Ok, so this stupid bag costs almost $40,000 USD, sure it is a lot of $$ to you and me, but not to the super rich. She is up there, in the 0.00001% of the world's population that can afford to do silly things with their own $$. Switzerland is racist?? I think they just want to keep their country safe, clean etc..and not be like France, the UK etc..but when it comes to accepting $$$ for all of those SECRET SWISS bank accounts, as long as the $$$ is good, I am sure they could not give a hoot about the color, race, religion of their secret 3rd world dictator etc..depositing billions of $$ into their so called secret bank accounts.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

wow, so many experts on Swiss culture here from people, I'm pretty sure, who have never set foot inside the country.

If you think Swiss people are not racist, you are living in a fantasy world!

the woman refused to show the bag to Oprah because she was black. If she were white, she would have been shown the bag.

Yup.

Most of Europe, including Switzerland, is far less racist than the United States. Tina Turner is a good example of an artist who has emigrated there and thrived. Earlier examples include Josephine Baker and the writer, James Baldwin.

Are you Black? How would you know? Ask blacks that live in Europe that are NOT as privileged. I know for a fact they have a much harder time and it also depends on where you live. But overall, Europe is not the best place for Blacks, generally speaking.

Europe sounds great if you're a world famous star everyone is aware of. Now why don't you ask run of the mill African immigrants just how well they are treated.

Exactly! Case in point, look at all the Black soccer players how they are always so warmly treated by the fans.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Mysterious part is, what made the salesgirl think that she, the absolutely gorgeous, absolutely billionaire-looking lady was there just to kick the tires.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Oprah forget Europa is not America and shopkeepers there may predict she likely carry some gun rather then fat bank book. Flee market would be more appropriate place for her for undisturbed shopping.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

“She said: ‘No, no, no, you don’t want to see that one. You want to see this one. Because that one will cost too much; you will not be able to afford that,’” Winfrey, appearing on the U.S. television program “Entertainment Tonight,” quoted the clerk as saying. “And I said, ‘Well, I did really want to see that one.’ And she refused to get it.”

If Oprah was a young male, she would look like Trayvon Martin.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Likewise, if you look like you don't have the money, they are going to condescend to you no matter what color you are.

hidingout - what makes you think Winfrey (who made $77 million last year) didn't look like she "had the money".

The difference in this instance is that Ms Winfrey is used to having her ass kissed long and hard in most any shop of this sort anywhere in the world. I think her real gripe here is that she got treated like regular folks.

And you have this on good authority from........?

With these attitudes, you should put in an application to Trois Pommes.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

What happened to "The customer is always right." Should have shown her the bag regardless.But even those wearing rose tinted glasses know why she wasn't.And those in denial up on this board should hopefully get their own dose of karma for spouting utter tripe.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

some07791:

Oprah is American and she is only famous in her own country. To suggest that the whole world should know who OPRAH! is ignores the fact that she isnt a prime time celebrity outside of America and the countries around America.

She may not be well-known in Japan, and I don't know about Switzerland, but you clearly are in the dark here. Oprah is well known all over the world. She was already popular in the UK by the late 80's and she lay the foundation for shows like Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake (I still recall the one she did on white supremacists and was called a monkey on her own show). And didn't she end her chat show series in Australia? I'm pretty sure her show also reached out to many parts of Africa and Asia too.

But yes, clearly this assistant didn't recognize her. The same grovelling act which Hermes in France had to do a few years back.

serrano:

something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

Yep, you said it. Personally I wouldn't take that stuff if it was given to me for free. (Well, I might, but I'd resell them)

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Mark, you must not be of color so, I will have to spell it out to you. Maybe this white clerk was not racist, and this hotel etc..not racist, but they have to be REALLY, REALLY STUPID to not be prepared to deal and treat with utmost respect, courtesy etc..a customer like OPRAH! Too bad for that stupid hotel and the lazy worker who the Swiss say mainly only spoke Italian?? Smells of BS to me! The Swiss speak like 10 languages because they are a tiny country and the need to speak many languages to get $$$ from all over the world.

-8 ( +9 / -17 )

Switzerland has electricity?? They have the internet?? So my guess,these folk know full well who Tina Turner is, no idea she was living out there, and somebody as famous as Tina Turner and super famous and RICexH Oprah comes by and these jerk who can only speak Swiss Italian can not tell who they are dealing with?? Time to send this jerk to go wash potatoes, toilets etc...it is not her fault that the jerk at this expensive boutique did not recognize her. Is this racism?? Not too sure, but anyway if this helps Oprah get more publicity for her new movie, oh well, Danke, Merci, Grazie to our Swiss amigos!

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

wow, so many experts on Swiss culture here from people, I'm pretty sure, who have never set foot inside the country.

the woman refused to show the bag to Oprah because she was black. If she were white, she would have been shown the bag.

Most of Europe, including Switzerland, is far less racist than the United States. Tina Turner is a good example of an artist who has emigrated there and thrived. Earlier examples include Josephine Baker and the writer, James Baldwin.

Yabits - Europe sounds great if you're a world famous star everyone is aware of. Now why don't you ask run of the mill African immigrants just how well they are treated.

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More than likely, this was a misunderstanding.

The only misunderstanding was not recognizing Oprah as a wealthy and influential individual and that failing to serve her would lead to embarrassment.

Beyond that both the Oprah and the clerk understood each other perfectly; message sent, loud and clear. This was a textbook example of racism. To suggest otherwise is to make yourself look foolish.

Most of Europe, including Switzerland, is far less racist than the United States.

Grotesque racism is alive and well in Europe and beyond. Don't confuse the US's very visible struggles with the legacy of slavery as an indicator of some sort of unique level of racism. It's this sort of attitude ("They can't be racist! After all, they are European!") that causes you to overlook painfully obvious incidents of racism sitting right in front of your face (See above).

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

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