Tags: oprah | racism | zurich | shopping
Image: Oprah Racism: Zurich Incident a 'Misunderstanding,' Says Store

Oprah Racism: Zurich Incident a 'Misunderstanding,' Says Store

Monday, 12 Aug 2013 07:06 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Media mogul Oprah Winfrey received an apology from the Swiss Tourism Office last week after she complained she experienced racism in Zurich last month while shopping at a high-end boutique there.

The dust up exploded into an international story when Winfrey told the "Entertainment Tonight" in an interview that aired Thursday that while she was in town for Tina Turner's wedding, a shop assistant in a Zurich store refused to show Winfrey a handbag that the assistant said was "too expensive" for Winfrey, reported ABC News.

Winfrey brought up the event while promoting the upcoming movie "The Butler," in which she is co-starring. The movie, starring Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker, is about a White House butler who served eight presidents.

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"Racism for me doesn't show itself that way. It still exists," Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight in recounting the shop story. "Obviously, 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' is not shown in Zurich. I say to the woman, 'Excuse me, may I see that bag right above your head?' And she says to me, 'No, it's too expensive.' She refused to get it."

Winfrey said she decided to leave the shop rather than cause a scene, noted Entertainment Tonight.

Daniela Baer, a spokeswoman for the Swiss tourism office, said on Friday, according to The Guardian newspaper, that it was "very sorry for what happened" to Winfrey. "We think all of our guests and clients should be treated respectfully, in a professional way."

Tros Pommes store owner Trudie Gotz told BBC News, though, that Winfrey was "absolutely allowed" to look at the $35,000 bag and the incident was a "misunderstanding."

"My salesperson wanted to give her the handbag in her hand," Gotz told BBC News. "But she didn't want to take the bag. She tried to show Mrs. Oprah the same style in other qualities, because maybe she didn't understand what she wanted."

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In the Entertainment Tonight interview, Winfrey also gave her take on the Paula Deen controversy this summer, where Deen's past use of the N-word led to the end of the celebrity chef's television show, a book deal and numerous endorsements.

"I think Paula Deen was sort of used as a symbol, but I think lots of people use the word inappropriately all the time," Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight, saying she would like to interview Deen at some point.

Related stories:

Obama to Honor Clinton, Oprah with Freedom Medal

Oprah on Paula Deen: 'Lots of People Use That Word Appropriately'

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