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:
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.
It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.