comments_image Comments

Oprah Denied Service While Shopping for "Very Expensive" Handbag in Zurich

Oprah told Entertainment Tonight her "Pretty Woman" treatment is just one example of how she -- a high-powered woman -- experiences racism.

Even Black women as powerful and recognizable as Oprah Winfrey are subject to racism, though it may be a different sort of discrimination than what less high-profile people of color experience. The female entrepeneur recently received some  "racist 'Pretty Woman' treatment" while shopping for purses at a boutique in Zurich. While Oprah was browsing a $38,000 crocodile Tom Ford handbag, a salesperson told the powerhouse how " very expensive" it was and refused to let her see it. Of course, the bag is grossly expensive, but if a boutique is selling it, employees must expect someone has the means to buy it. But not Oprah, apparently.

From Entertainment Tonight:

While Winfrey may be one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, she apparently doesn't have as big a fan base in Switzerland. Winfrey tells [Nancy] O'Dell that while in Zurich for Tina Turner's  wedding she left the  hotel to go shopping by herself and was denied service when the clerk assumed that Winfrey wouldn't be able to afford the  bag she was asking to see.

Winfrey ultimately left the store without making a fuss, deciding it was better to leave empty-handed than give the employee commission.

Oprah shared her experience with racism in Zurich as evidence of how people with power experience prejudice differently. She told ET:

Nobody in their right mind, unless they're a Twitter thug, is going to call me the N-word. 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 it doesn't happen to me that way.

Oprah also spoke about her role in  Lee Daniels’ The Butler, in which she plays the wife of a White House servant. Through Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who was born the son of a poor sharecropper, the The Butler provides an eyewitness account of generations of African American domestic workers in a rapidly changing America.  

Watch the video below:

Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne

See more stories tagged with: