Oprah falls victim to racism in Switzerland

Aug 10, 2013, 01:37 IST | Agencies

The billionaire revealed she was the victim of racism when a shop assistant refused to show her a handbag -- saying it would be too expensive for her

She is one of America’s most-loved TV personalities, is one of the world’s richest women, but Oprah Winfrey is, it seems, sadly not immune from racially motivated prejudice.

The 59-year-old US talk show host says she was the victim of racism during a visit to Switzerland last month.

“I was in Zurich the other day, in a store whose name I shall not mention,” she said.

“I didn’t have my eyelashes on, but I was in full Oprah Winfrey gear. But obviously The Oprah Winfrey Show is not shown in Zurich. 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’.

”She added that she insisted on seeing the bag, but the woman replied: “No, no you don’t want to see this one because that one will cost too much. You will not be able to afford that.”

Oprah then explained she was shown smaller bags before she was refused for a third time. “She said, Oh I don’t want to hurt your feelings’ and I said, ‘Ok thank you so much you’re probably right I can’t afford it’,” she added. “I could’ve had the whole blow-up thing and thrown down the black card but why do that? But that clearly is you know … it (racism) still exists, of course it does.”

Store apologises
The incident occurred in the chic Trois Pommes store whose owner, Trudie Götz, said there had been ‘a misunderstanding’ caused by the assistant’s failure to recognise Oprah Winfrey. She apologised for her assistant’s behaviour, saying there had been “a misunderstanding between her and Oprah. We don’t have any facial controls here.”

Second time for Oprah
This isn’t the first time Oprah’s had shopping problems -- the Parisian branch of Hermes was forced to apologise after turning the talk show host away in 2005.

Victims of racism

Mariah Carey: At a press conference for a film in New York, Mariah recalled a scene in the movie where she was spat on by a white person. And that’s when she told reporters, “That actually happened to me. I know people would be in shock and not really want to believe or accept that, but it did.”

Rihanna: A Dutch magazine had to apologise to the Barbados beauty after they carried a piece on the popstar’s fashion sense.  The piece was called De Niggab***h.

Mila Kunis: The Friends with Benefits star was in the centre of a racism spat when a Ukrainian politician called her a ‘zhydovka’, which translates to ‘dirty Jewess.’ He also said the star is not a true Ukrainian.

Shilpa Shetty: The Rajasthan Royals co-owner was a victim of racism when she participated in the UK reality show Celebrity Big Brother. Her housemate Jade Goody, had shouted at Shilpa to ‘go back to the slums’.

$2.8 bn
Oprah Winfrey’s net worth as of March 2012

The cost of the bag that Oprah demanded to see in the store 

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