Today's Evil Beet Gossip

Swiss Shop Worker Denies Oprah Racism; Oprah’s Sorry It’s Gone This Far

oprah winfrey

Right, so we all remember how Oprah got Pretty Woman-ed in Switzerland earlier this month when she was repeatedly refused to see a purse she wanted to buy since the shop owner assumed she had no money, right? While the Swiss tourism board has gone so far as to offer a formal apology for the incident, the shop worker responsible for the behaviour denied it ever happened. Meanwhile, Oprah herself is just sorta mortified it’s all gone this far.

The anonymous shop worker’s statement to SonntagsBlick (because people who have done nothing wrong totally hide beyond anonymity):

“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.

“I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do. 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.”

“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 cannibalise me on TV. If it had all taken place as she claimed, why hadn’t she complained to my boss the next day at Tina Turner’s wedding? She was there also at the Turner wedding as a guest.”

I dunno, I kinda don’t buy it. Maybe it was an innocent mistake, but the issue here is that when you’ve lived your whole life being discriminated against because of the colour of your skin, it doesn’t take much to provoke that defensive reaction, especially when you’ve been working your whole life to escape the limitations that come along with it.

Oprah’s statement to BBC News:

“I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. I’m really sorry that it got blown up. I purposely did not mention the name of the store. I’m sorry that I said it was Switzerland.

“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. For me, racism doesn’t show up. Nobody’s going to come and call me the N-word to my face, unless they’re a thug on Twitter or Facebook. I was just saying it shows up for me differently. I’m in a store and the person doesn’t obviously know that I carry the black card, and so they make an assessment based upon the way I look and who I am.”

She then joked that she’ll go out of her way to avoid similar situations in the future, saying:

“I cleaned up! I washed my hair and put on my Donna Karan skirt, because I know these people in stores can be very snooty pooty. So I thought, ‘Let me dress so I don’t get turned away’, and it happened anyway. So I guess I didn’t dress up enough.And I didn’t have anything that said, ‘I have money’. I wasn’t wearing a diamond stud, I didn’t have a pocketbook, I didn’t wear a Louis Vuitton shoe. I didn’t have anything – I just had a Donna Karan skirt, a top, and some sandals. You should be able to go in a store looking whatever you look like, and say, ‘I want to see this’. That didn’t happen.”

I also feel like it’s kinda bullshit that Oprah has to apologise for being put out by racism – even if it only felt like racism to her and that wasn’t the woman’s intention. Sure, the shop girl doesn’t need to be vilified, but I just feel like now she has to backtrack and feel bad about the fact that she was the one who was treated wrongly, just because some white people are up in arms now. I don’t know, this all makes my brain hurt.

16 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I think the shop girl is hiding because she stands accused. I mean, that’s enough to push some people over the edge. I think Oprah is pissed that she isn’t recognized as Oprah in all of the far corners of the earth. She wanted to see a $40,000 bag, they didn’t know who she is, and I’m sure they don’t let every Schmo off the street look at an item like that. End of story. Anyone else appreciating Oprah’s super out-of-touch brush with racism? When the story starts “Well, I was in Switzerland for my friend Tina Turner’s…” STFU. Just stop right there.

  • Well, some people seems to forget that there are plenty of better reasons to despise them than something as irrelevant as skin colour.

  • Personally I think it’s just Oprah trying to stay relevant. I doubt quite seriously that she wasn’t recognized or that the saleslady was seeing a “can’t afford it” black lady.

    • Its surprising how when black people complain of racism white try to blame the person complain trying to infer that racism does exist in there country. Maybe if you where black then you would see what its like. Have you ever walked down a street and when a white woman see you she holds her bag tight to her chest. Until you have experienced these kinds of thins you should keep you mouth shut

  • In Europe Oprah isn’t that big of a deal. We’re not major fans over here. Also, we don’t really have the whole white/black divide that America has, I honestly just think the girl saw what Oprah was wearing and didn’t recognise the designer (Who is Donna Karan?). There’s nothing wrong with suggesting a cheaper product, it’s not saying “You can’t afford it.” She just probably thought “Why would someone want to spend more money on an item that has a doppleganger that’s cheaper?”

  • I’m white, and I don’t get shown 40k bags. I can’t afford them anyway, so I’ve never thought about it. Simply assuming someone isn’t wealthy doesn’t need to be followed by “…BECAUSE OF THEIR SKIN COLOR.”

  • My roommate from college is from Switzerland. She’s always said they’re super racist and super nationalist there.

  • I carry a very nice bag and people who know their bags know it, Im big girl so I carry a big purse etc and have starred me down because I have that bag and I have heard comments like, it is a knock off and how did she get that…. “B” I worked for it and I aint got no time for no fake purse… now wanna know why they said that…hmmm

  • Oprah clearly will do anything to stay in the headlines. She is on the way down and so desperate she is willing to harm an innocent shopkeeper. How many homeless would that purse feed. Shameful.

  • Oprah has always been a race baiter so I’m not the least bit surprised at her remarks. She wants justice for Trevon Martin but when it comes to three black kids shooting a baseball player for fun you don’t hear a peep out of her. I think people should boycott all of her projects until she can become a little less racist herself.

  • Oprah tried to rise above victimhood, but even at her level of success she still imagines she’s a victim. Give me a break! She probably doesn’t even realize that part of her success is because she’s black. She’s a beneficiary of reverse racism. She discriminated against that poor shop girl because she was white, only proving that she is in fact the racist in that story.

  • They are not use to seeing people of color in their stores to begin with and assume, allowing ignorance to take over. Oprah should have went next door and bought ten purses went back into that store and said have a nice day.

  • I have more money than my partner, I’m half black, he is blonde w/blue eyes. We indeed get treated differently because of this by blacks, whites, whatever. If I wear something just as casual as he always does, it’s assumed I don’t have money but he does. So we just move on to a person who we feel has a better sense of what a person can actually afford by engaging in conversation. A good sales person can read a person and give them what they want. Anyone who just talks to him and/or only makes eye contact with him gets dismissed, we don’t even talk about such stupidity. We are both good judges of character so moving on and speaking to the right person seems to solve the issue. There have been ppl who’ve lost a sale and it’s obvious why when we are at the till. Europeans are full of assumptions when it comes to Americans all together. I’ve lived there for many years and had to deal with not racism but classism. So it’s best to not get so caught up on such ignorance.