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Oprah Offers Weak Apology For Swiss Racism Accusations Over $38,000 Handbag

Oprah Winfrey is sort of apologizing for accusing a boutique in Switzerland of being racist after the store clerk finally spoke up and gave her side of the story. Meanwhile, somebody has finally called out the biggest problem with the handbag fiasco – why was Oprah trying to buy a $38,000 purse in the first place?

Oprah may be the queen of daytime talk shows but even she can’t talk her way out of every mess she stumbles into.

During a trip to Switzerland for Tina Turner’s wedding, Oprah decided to go shopping for a new handbag but quickly encountered a situation that she interpreted as being racism.

When the store clerk offered to show Oprah some other bag options that weren’t priced at $38,000, the media mogul was offended and decided to leave the story after no more than five minutes, according to the clerk who decided to remain anonymous.

The clerk has now dished her side of the story, revealing she was shocked and confused that Oprah would accuse the shop of racism simply because she was offering her some more practical bag options.

In an attempt to clean up the bit of a mess she made, Oprah made a public apology that was about as convincing as Paula Deen’s apologies for using the N-word.

“I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland,” she said. “I’m really sorry that it got blown up.”

Note here that the apology is shifting the blame to the media rather than herself for accusing the shop of being racist in the first place, which could have had a seriously negative impact on its business.

According to Oprah, she did a good deed by not mentioning the name of the store.

“I purposefully did not mention the name of the store,” she added. “I’m sorry that I said it was Switzerland.”

Oprah originally told the press about the story as an example of how racism still exists today, but during her public attempt at an apology she suddenly came up with an entirely new reason for the anecdote.

“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,” she said. “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.”

She went on to say that she wasn’t wearing anything that would suggest she was wealthy and that’s what led to the misunderstanding.

Of course, even that explanation suggests that the shop employees judge their customers based on their appearance, but the store clerk insists that is just not the case.

“I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do,” the clerk said. “She 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.”

The clerk went on to say that “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.”

Meanwhile, Melissa Harris-Perry slammed the talk show queen for making such a fuss about a $38,000 bag in the first place.

In Harris-Perry’s sarcastic words, the store “denied [Oprah] her right to buy a $38,000 handbag! The outrage!”

“This particular slight might be will categorized as #one-percenter problems,” she added.

To make matters worse, Oprah was using the situation to bring attention to the problems of racism. But while others are denied jobs and justice, she is making her case over a designer bag that could have paid a child’s way through college.

She even pointed out that the price of the bag could have fed a family of four for over two years.

At the end of the day, the entire situation just seems to be a huge “oops” on Oprah’s part rather than the media’s. Let’s face it, nobody would else would have accused the shop of being racist for showing Oprah a cheaper handbag if the “The Butler” actress hadn’t made the accusation herself.

So whenever you’re ready Ms. Winfrey, feel free to consult with Ms. Deen about making a second public apology after the first one falls flat, or even asking J. Cole how to give such a great public apology that people are actually willing to forgive you.

What people are saying

18 thoughts on “Oprah Offers Weak Apology For Swiss Racism Accusations Over $38,000 Handbag

  1. Daniel Jacobi says:

    She does what she wants, she doesn't care.

  2. Jenelle Bellille-Gill says:

    The store clerk actions are what I consider to be prejudiced. If the woman asked for the $38000 handbag, show her the damn handbag. She didn't ask for a 'more practical' bag. If it was like the one she held in her hand why was the one on the shelf 'more expensive'? She is damn rascist! She judged Oprah's pockets because she's black! There is no two ways about it. She profiled her based on race. I have been a victim of that myself so I know it can be hurtful and Oprah should NEVER apologize for it. Further to that Harris-Perry (whoever you are) you did not contribute to how Oprah made her fortune in the first place so why should you have a say on how she spends it? You are out of order and totally out of line! She can spend her money any damn way she sees fit. She doesn't owe any body their "college education" or "groceries for a year" because they made life choices that have them in that situation in the first place. Does anybody tell you how to spend your money? I doubt it!

  3. dan but seriously who in the world has a television and doesnt know oprah, it goes to show the level of intelligence of the store clerk also.

  4. So if Oprah shouldn't buy a $38000 handbag then who should? No, seriously, who?

  5. So if Oprah shouldn't buy a $38000 handbag then who should? No,seriously, who?

  6. Terence Tramp Abney says:

    "Meanwhile, somebody has finally called out the biggest problem with the handbag fiasco – why was Oprah trying to buy a $38,000 purse in the first place?"

    who is Melissa Harris-Perry or anyone else to question what Oprah wants to do with money she earned? this is the problem with people in general…they tend to believe that their opinion of someone else's life matters and should hold weight…

    it's NOT your life, its not your life, its… not…your… life…

  7. Camille Carreira-Arjoon says:

    that is Oprah's business and her money, and she can buy any such bag she chooses.. She can pay 50,000.00 and why should it bother anyone else?

  8. U missed the point she was making !!!

  9. Chiloe Mu says:

    Carl Shotta Huggins : people who don't live in the US don't know Oprah : that's that easy. Each country has its own television shows …

  10. Jenelle Bellille-Gill says:

    Chiloe Mu: Is that the store clerk's excuse? Not recognising the O? No body should be profiled like that. White or Black. Additionally, Oprah is (one of) the wealthiest black women on earth! That goes beyond television. She's world news! How about the internet? Do they have their own internet in that country too?? Lmao! Seriously! She's graced the cover of Forbes Magazine and probably hundreds of others! Who in the world doesn't know Oprah?? That clerk is working in a high end store, selling $38000 handbags and doesn't know Oprah?! That's like living in England and not knowing prince William!! Please! She's a pathetic rascist!

  11. If Oprah shouldn't buy a $38000 bag, who was the damn bag for? Why was in the store on display? I bet a white homeless looking lady could have went in the store and the clerk would have shown her the damn bag.

  12. Tarana Burke says:

    Jenelle Bellille-Gill Thank you Jenelle. I read this article with my MOUTH OPEN!! How is this writer for a black website really siding with the shop owner and writing this from the slant of Oprah being wrong??? Not just bc she's Oprah either. And that apology wasn't an apology to the store owner or the clerk. She has not backed away from her statements at all. Why can't the sales girl be lying about her intentions? Why is the author of this piece assuming that Oprah is wrong. AND further more, she has said that if she knew it was $38K she wouldn't have bought it anyway, but it doesn't mean that she shouldn't be able to look at it. And if she bought twelve bags and handed them out on the street, it's NOBODY'S BUSINESS BUT HERS!!! Stay out of her pockets! Good grief. I'm so surprised at this article.

  13. Stefanie Matuszyk says:

    I would assume no one could afford a 38k handbag.

  14. Dianne O'Keita says:

    Leave the customer the option to ask for a more 'practical' item. I ask for item 'A', show me item 'A' , and don't assume I want anything else. If I'm offered other items , I could read your 'assistance' as being prejudiced (race or class).

  15. Interesting that the article brings up her wealth, that the situation revolved around an expensive handbag and how it's a "one-percenter problem" as if any of that would exempt her from being a victim of racism. I don't get it.

  16. Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley says:

    Leave aside for the moment the absurd idea of a bag for 38,000.00.
    The issue is troubling I think Oprah's instincts were correct. IF THE bag was for sale why would you steer potential sale away…other tha. That age old presumption …having been inthise situations yes it was about insidious racism and no one is excluded no matter how famous….having said that….The wirkd has lost its mind 38,000.00 for a pocketbook. THIS not an indictment if Ophrah for she is a philanthropist. BUT why price it at 38,000.00 and why do people encourage this….Social justice outrage buy a brown bag of 38,000.00 groceries and distribute it to the poor….

  17. Giuditta Maria Guglielmo says:

    I really like Melissa Harris-Perry, but I agree that she was completely out of line on this one.

  18. Des Brown says:

    When white people make stuff & sell it for high prices its not for us. They make those things for THEM.
    We go out of our way to buy their shit for all these ridiculous prices. In reality they make it that way hoping it would be out of our reach. I say FUCK THEM. Why should we buy their product & give them OUR money. They despise us. Support our own ppl. In fact make our own clothing. … shoe. … pocketbook line.

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