Talk show titan and Obama’s pal Oprah Winfrey, who has an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion (some racist country America is!), is starring in a new movie about racist America called The Butler.
A few days ago, Oprah made headlines when she claimed that she was racially discriminated against by a sales assistant in the Trois Pommes boutique in Zurich, Switzerland. Oprah was in Switzerland for singer Tina Turner’s wedding last month.
Oprah claims the sales assistant refused to show her a 35,000 Swiss franc ($37,450) luxury black crocodile leather handbag because – seeing a black woman – the sales assistant automatically assumed Oprah would not be able to afford it, saying: “You don’t want to see this bag. It is too expensive. You cannot afford it.”
Finally, the sales assistant is giving her version of what happened.
Allan Hall reports for The Daily Mail that speaking anonymously to the Swiss 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.
The sales lady said:
“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 (Oprah) 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.
She looked around the store again but didn’t say anything else. Then she went with her companion to the lower floor. My colleague saw them to the door. They were not even in the store for five minutes.”
The woman emphatically denies ever saying to Oprah: “You don’t want to see this bag. It is too expensive. You cannot afford it.”
She states:”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.
I spoke to Oprah Winfrey in English. My English is okay but not excellent, unfortunately. I didn’t know who she was when she came into the store. That wouldn’t have made any difference if I had. We work really hard to greet all the people who come into the store with the same level of respect and treat them all equally. If someone asks me whether he or she can see an article, I always present these. Because that person is a potential buyer. And my job is to sell it. I’m glad if I can sell an article. It is a reward for me, if I can sell a nice piece. This means that I’m good at my job.”
The woman has worked in the store for five years. 50% of the clientele come from abroad and a bag costing nearly £25,000 is sold “only a few times a year.”
Asked what she would say to Oprah now she added: “I would apologize and say it was all a misunderstanding. I surely did not intentionally want to insult Ms. Winfrey. I hope this nightmare ends soon.”
At the Aug. 12 Los Angeles premiere of The Butler, Oprah was asked about what the sales assistant had said. Oprah’s response: “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.”
TMZ, which reported Oprah’s reaction, isn’t buying it and calls Oprah “passive aggressive”:
“Problem is … O’s full of it. What did she think was going to happen when she went on national TV and cried racism? The media was just going to ignore that??
Oprah once ragged on hamburgers and single-handedly CRIPPLED the beef industry. She knew damn well how the media was going to handle the Switzerland situation … which is why she went to the media in the first place. Her mission was to destroy the shop.
There are some people who are saying Oprah’s Swiss encounter wasn’t really about race — Oprah was just mad she wasn’t treated like Her Royal O-ness because the shop employee didn’t recognize her … but now, after the employee told the media she’s being unfairly attacked, O’s feeling a little guilty.
But pretending not to know about the impact of her race allegations?? That’s like Obama pretending not to know what’s gonna happen if he pushes that big red button in the White House.
C’mon O … you’re smarter than that. And so are we.”
Whom do you believe? – Oprah or the saleslady? Sound off in our poll!
Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.