Oprah Winfrey insisted that she WAS a victim of racism and she experienced what ‘people of black or brown color experience daily’, in an interview with a Swiss newspaper published today.
Oprah, one of the world’s richest women, revealed on Entertainment Tonight last week that she felt discriminated against when a sales assistant in a luxury Zurich Boutique refused to show her a $38,000 handbag designed by Tom Ford and named after Jennifer Aniston.
‘I was asked if I am confronted with racism,’ she told Swiss daily Blick in an interview in Los Angeles on Monday night but not published until today.
This experience wasn’t obvious- it was subtle:
‘My answer – not in the same way as others because I am so well known. Except on Twitter, no-one dares confront me with the N-word. I feel discrimination in a different way.
‘My antenna receives an underlying “what is going on here?” I called Zurich an example, because it was happening.’
Asked if she was being ‘particularly sensitive,’ she said: ‘No! I know of no black man who was never stopped by police because of his skin color, or persecuted, but it’s different for women. What I’ve experienced in Switzerland happened only once before in my life.
The saleswoman in question has a different memory of the event:
The sales assistant who refused to show U.S. talkshow billionaire Oprah Winfrey a luxury handbag costing nearly £25,000 claims the superstar lied about what happened in the luxury Swiss boutique where she works.
Speaking anonymously to Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick, the Italian bag lady said she felt ‘powerless’ and in the grip of a ‘cyclone’ after Winfrey went on TV in America to claim she had been the victim of racism.
Winfrey was in Switzerland in July when she walked into the Trois Pommes boutique in Zurich looking for a handbag to match the outfit she was going to wear to old friend Tina Turner’s wedding.
She claims the sales assistant refused to show her the black crocodile leather bag because – seeing a black woman – she automatically assumed she would not be able to afford it.
Now the saleslady has hit back, stating: ‘I wasn’t sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday July 20 so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection.
‘She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag.
‘I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags.
‘It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag.
Then the saleswoman makes a great point:
The saleslady went on: ‘This is not true. This is absurd. I would never say something like that to a customer. Really never. Good manners and politeness are the Alpha and the Omega in this business.
‘I don’t know why she is making these accusations. She is so powerful and I am just a shop girl.
‘I didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV.
‘If it had all taken place as she claimed, why has she not complained the next day at the wedding of Tina Turner with Trudie Goetz, my boss? She was there also at the Turner wedding as a guest. I don’t understand it.
Curiously, this has happened before – accompanying another racially themed movie release:
June 22, 2005 – Luxury store Hermes on Wednesday apologized to Oprah Winfrey for turning her away last week, saying that its Paris store was closed to set up for a public relations event when the talk show host stopped by.
“Hermes regrets not having been able to accommodate Ms. Winfrey and her team and to provide her with the service and care that Hermes strives to provide to each and every one of its customers worldwide,” the store said in a statement.
“Hermes apologizes for any offense taken due to such circumstances.”
The store said the incident occurred on June 14 around 6:45 p.m., about 15 minutes after the store closed. It said Winfrey and her team arrived at a time when “a private PR event was being set up inside.”
Harpo Productions spokeswoman Michelle McIntyre said Winfrey “will discuss her ‘crash moment’ when her show returns from hiatus in September.”
“Crash” is a film dealing with race relations. The phrase “crash moment” refers to situations where a party feels discriminated against on the basis of skin color.
The New York Daily News cited sources close to Winfrey as saying the talk show host was first rebuffed by a clerk and then a store manager. The Daily News reported Winfrey had gone to the store to buy a watch for singer Tina Turner, her dining partner that night.
Tina Turner both times? What are the odds that Oprah would find a racist sales clerk on both trips to see Tina Turner right around the time a new movie involving Oprah is being released?
But now she’s sorry she ever brought it up:
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oprah Winfrey says she’s “sorry” about the media coverage that emerged after she said she experienced racism during a trip to Switzerland.
“I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. I’m really sorry that it got blown up. I purposefully did not mention the name of the store. I’m sorry that I said it was Switzerland,” Winfrey said Monday night at the Los Angeles premiere of “Lee Daniels: The Butler.”
“I was just referencing it as an example of being in a place where people don’t expect that you would be able to be there,” she continued.
BTW, the bag Oprah wanted to buy? It’s a crocodile skin bag. That’s an interesting purchase for PETA’s 2008 Person of the Year, no?