Oprah on racism over ‘too expensive’ handbag; gets Swiss apology

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Oprah Winfrey has said that in her experience, sexism has been worse than racism. But she often experiences both

Oprah Winfrey has said that in her experience, sexism has been worse than racism. But she often experiences both

Nobody tells Oprah she can’t afford a handbag.

Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest entertainers in the world, thanks to her willdly successful 25-season run on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and her latest media foray with the newly revitalizedOprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The entertainer earned an estimated $77 million from June 2012 to June 2013 alone, according to Forbes, but she says she still experiences racism because she is African American.

Take this latest incident in Switzerland, where “The Butler” star went to attend the nuptials of good friend and singer Tina Turner last month.

In an interview with “Entertainment Tonight,” the Queen of TV was asked about ousted TV chef Paula Deen in relation to her use of the N-word, which prompted Winfrey to share her most recent experience with racism. (Watch it below.)

“Racism for me doesn’t show itself that way. Nobody in their right mind, unless they’re a Twitter thug, is going to call me the N-word,” she told “ET’s” Nancy O’Dell. “But nobody in their right mind is going to do that to my face, because true racism is being able to have power over somebody else. So that doesn’t happen to me that way.”

Instead, discrimination has manifested itself in people who think she shouldn’t be holding her position of power. The media mogul said that in her experience, sexism has been worse than racism. But she often experiences both.

“The sexism thing is huge,” said Winfrey. “The higher the ladder you climb, it gets huge, because men are used to running things.”

In Switzerland, it seemed to be because of the color of her skin.

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“I was in Zurich the other day, at a store whose name I will not mention. I didn’t have my eyelashes on, but I was in full Oprah Winfrey gear,” she said.

“But obviously, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ is not shown in Zurich,” she added, saying she was shopping solo. “And I go in a store, which shall remain unnamed, and I say to the woman, ‘Excuse me, may I see that bag right above your head?’ And she says to me, ‘No, it’s too expensive.’ ”

True story.

After a few more tries to have the woman show her the bag, Winfrey said, “She refused to get it.”

“One more time I tried. I said, ‘But I really do just want to see that one,’ and she said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to hurt your feelings,’ and I said, ‘OK, thank you so much. You’re probably right. I probably can’t afford it,’ and I walked out the store. Now why did she do that?”

Clearly this person was not familiar with the fascinating “Oprah” segment called “What’s in Oprah’s Purse.”

Winfrey decided to leave the shop without buying the bag instead of making a big deal about how she was treated. (We envision a Reese Witherspoon-esque, “Do you know my name?” exchange going down.)

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“There’s two different ways to handle it,” Winfrey said. “I could’ve had the whole blow-up thing and thrown down the black card and all that stuff. But why do that? Clearly, [racism] still exists, of course it does.”

Though Oprah wasn’t telling, the whole thing went down at Zurich’s Trois Pommes, where a high-end Tom Ford Jennifer bag (named after Ford’s real-life pal Jennifer Aniston) was being sold for about $38,000, according to the Associated Press.

The shopping snafu has warranted an apology to the media maven from the Swiss Tourism Office.

“We are very sorry for what happened to her,” Daniela Baer, a spokeswoman for the tourism office, told the Associated Press on Friday.

The office also tweeted that the saleswoman “acted terribly wrong.”

And we’re sure she has 38,000 reasons to apologize.

However, the luxury shop denied any discrimination against Winfrey, saying that a language barrier was to blame.

“This is an absolute classic misunderstanding,” shop owner Trudie Goetz told Reuters on Friday. “This has nothing to do with racism, I am here for everyone, and the customer is king.”

Le plug, no?

Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

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