Racism toward Oprah costs Swiss shop $40,000
In a revealing incident, a shop clerk who didn't recognize Winfrey assumed the ultra-wealthy star couldn't afford a pricey handbag.
Oprah Winfrey made $77 million in the first six months of 2013 alone, according to Forbes. She has a net worth of $2.8 billion, her own radio, TV and print media empire, and gave $105 million to her Leadership Academy For Girls. It's safe to say that she can afford any handbag ever produced.
A shop assistant in Zurich disagreed. As Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight, when she was in Switzerland attending Tina Turner's wedding last month, she popped into a high-end boutique and saw a $40,000 handbag she liked. The assistant apparently glanced at Winfrey in her Donna Karan skirt and sandals and decided she didn't meet the store's financial requirements.
"I go into a store and I say to the woman, 'Excuse me, may I see the bag right above your head?' and she says to me, 'No. It's too expensive.'"
Winfrey facetiously agreed and walked out of the store without incident.
"There's two different ways to handle it. I could've had the whole blow-up thing ... but [racism] still exists, of course it does," she told ET.
Blick newspaper reported that Trudie Goetz, the owner of the boutique Winfrey was talking about, had apologized for the incident and called it a "misunderstanding." Then again, Goetz also blamed it on the fact that the employee is Italian and doesn't speak English very well.
That highlights a far bigger problem in Switzerland right now, with Winfrey getting the least of its fallout. The country is in the midst of a harsh political battle over some Swiss towns wanting to ban asylum-seekers from using public places such as school playgrounds, swimming pools and libraries. Human rights have criticized this as intolerance and racist on par with apartheid.
It has, however, drawn attention to the fact that Switzerland hosts almost double the number of asylum-seekers per capita as its European neighbors. It houses one refugee for every 332 inhabitants, compared to one per 625 inhabitants on the rest of the continent. Some 48,000 refugees are seeking asylum in Switzerland.
In June, voters overwhelmingly backed a referendum to tighten asylum restrictions. The right-wing Swiss People’s Party, meanwhile, has consistently declared that the country is being inundated with refugees. That has created a less-than-hospitable environment for anyone looking decidedly non-Swiss. It's also an incredibly costly situation for those refusing their business.
I'm a small blonde white woman. I've had the same experience a couple of times. I wouldn't know that Oprah's experience was because of her race.
I do not feel sorry for someone spending 40000 on a purse when there are people starving or homeless
How amusing...don't judge me by my color - just judge me by my income.... so you must treat me better than everyone else....hmmm. Perhaps they just didn't like her. Perhaps she acted all pretentious (due to her status at her bank) and the teller didn't like that- MAYBE she just didn't like HER. Guess what, the only people that feel guilty about something that happened many years ago...to people that are no longer living... is Americans....so, I guess we aren't all that racist after all.
Progress is just that, steps into the right direction - people have died to get what we have now, all we do is bitch that it isn't enough. What have ANY of us actively done to change this??? Other than continuous finger pointing, complaining and attitude. Let's just move on...
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