Most of you have probably heard about the racism Oprah Winfrey alleges she suffered at the hands of a store clerk in Zurich, Switzerland. According to Oprah, the clerk refused to show her a $38,000 Tom Ford purse, we are to assume, because Oprah is black and thus the store clerk presumed she couldn’t afford it.
Without going into the gory details, the shop clerk tells an entirely different story and feels that she’s being made the victim in order to satisfy Oprah’s personal agenda.
Here’s my take. Not showing Oprah a purse may be rude or bad business (after all, if you can get some sucker to buy a $38,000 purse, you’ve scored a huge coup), but I don’t see how you can credibly claim this is racism.
Maybe Oprah didn’t like the fact that the clerk didn’t recognize her and give her the star treatment she’s used to here in the U.S.A. and elsewhere. Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but perhaps instead this is somehow connected to the movie Oprah is promoting, The Butler, which comes out this Friday and deals with . . . wait for it . . . racism. How coincidental!
Perhaps Oprah planted this episode in the press knowing that it would become an international incident and bring her lots of attention. What she didn’t count on was the fact that more people were appalled by the idea that Oprah would even consider buying a purse that expensive than how some shop clerk in a foreign country treated her.
Even if the store clerk was the rudest most unpleasant person in the world, that does not justify calling her a racist and thus clearly attempting to subject her to international scorn and ridicule. Here is a woman trying to earn a living, probably not making a whole heck of a lot, being verbally run over by the most powerful woman in media. Talk about the evil one percent!
Let’s face it, I’m sure if I went to a highbrow store wearing Old Navy clothes and carrying a Nine West bag, I’m confident they would have given me the same brush off and likely worse.
It’s truly pathetic and should be embarrassing to Oprah that she’d throw an international fit because someone tried to stop her from buying a $38,000 purse. Clearly, she felt snubbed, but that just puts her with 99.9% of the population who would get a similar response if they asked to see such an expensive bag. Most likely, unless you walk into that store on the arm of an oil sheik, they are likely to be skeptical that they can really pawn this puppy off on you.
When someone is a racist, we must condemn it. That is truly abhorrent. At the same time, when someone alleges racism and there is none there, we should condemn that, too.
We need to fight both real and faux racism. Both are bad.
On Tuesday, I appeared on television to discuss this matter. My debate partner said that we are scientifically wired to treat others who we regard as different poorly. I disagree. I don’t think we are hard wired to be racists at all. There are some bad apples to be sure, but don’t assume that we’re all genetically predisposed to be racists.
I was also called a “white birther.” Some might argue that this is racist, but I don’t think so. I just think that’s someone calling me a name. Quite frankly, I don’t even care. I’m just the human form of Snow White, and the author chose to call me a name because she disagrees with me.
Oprah can have her high profile comments about her high end bag and highbrow store. I look forward, like most everyone else, to carrying my $38 Nine West bag proudly and always being color blind when it comes to shopping or anything else for that matter.