In the onslaught of a recent Italian article which went on to challenge Oprah Winfrey‘s account of what actually took place at one Swiss high end boutique store, the media tycoon has now done an about face and has now apologized for turning the apparent snub as a race issue.
Told Oprah Winfrey who at the time was flummoxed when a Swiss sales assistant did not offer to show her a pricier version of a handbag, believing it to be because she thought as a black woman could not afford it (never mind that 99% of most shoppers could never afford it either):
‘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,’
‘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.’
In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Oprah Winfrey recalled a clerk at an upscale Zurich boutique refusing to show her a handbag. Winfrey said she was told she could not afford the $38,000 purse.
‘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,’ said Winfrey, who coincidentally went on to earn $77 million in the year ending in June, according to Forbes magazine.
‘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 Louboutin shoes. I didn’t have anything,’ said Winfrey on the red carpet.
‘You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say “I’d like to see this”. That didn’t happen.’
Since the brouhaha, Swiss tourism officials and the boutique owner have gone on to apologize, nevertheless Winfrey insists they ought not to:
‘It’s not an indictment against the country or even that store. It was just one person who didn’t want to offer me the opportunity to see the bag.
‘So no apologies necessary from the country of Switzerland. If somebody makes a mistake in the United States do we apologize in front of the whole country? No!’
Asked what the sales assistant at the center of the incident would say now to Winfrey she went on to tell the following: ‘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.’
In the end, Oprah Winfrey might be right to surmise that racism is ripe and rampant but quite wrong to believe that everyone is guilty of it, even if sadly it is an unspoken rule that African Americans and minorities are often at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to affording pricier items. Not that we like to talk too much about such unsavory topics in the real world, never mind boutiques that casually sell handbags beyond 99% of most people’s price range….