Et tu, Oprah?

Et tu, Oprah?

Even the big “O” got caught up in the race game.  In an absurd statement last month, she said that the Trayvon Martin and Emmet Till cases were the “same thing” in her mind.  I have no intention of discussing just how wrong she is, since it should be overwhelmingly obvious.

Now she claims that a Swiss store-clerk racially discriminated against her when she attempted to buy an almost $40,000 purse.Oprah Winfrey

Even if we assume that the events, as recalled by Oprah, are 100% accurate, it is far from certain that this is a case of racism.  To toss it out like that, willy-nilly, is beneath someone of her dignity and stature.  And frankly, as a big fan of hers, it is shocking!

Maybe the Swiss shop girl was having a bad day.  Or maybe she was just not good at her job.  Or maybe she just didn’t like Oprah Winfrey.  Or maybe she thought the purse Oprah was asking for wasn’t right for her skin complexion, or it didn’t match her eye-color, or her shoes.  Or maybe her back hurt and she didn’t want to reach for the purse on the display.  Or maybe it’s just generally a pain to take the display purse down, and she got tired of having to put it back when everyone saw how expensive it was.  Or maybe the display purse had a defect and she didn’t want to show it to anyone.  Or maybe it was the last one, and she was holding it for someone else.  Or maybe her commission was lower, or there was none, for the display purse.  The point is, if you’re not absolutely certain — especially if you’re Oprah Winfrey — then you don’t call someone a racist.

In the movie, “Pretty Woman,” we saw how the snobby clerks at the expensive fashion store treated Julia Roberts.  While the behavior appeared repulsive on the big screen, it was clearly not a case of racism.  Julia, after all, was a pretty white girl.  She just happened to be dressed like a hooker.  I guess you could claim that Miss Roberts was “profiled” by her attire, and that is probably true.  But, like in most cases of “profiling” people based on the way they act and dress, the snobby store clerks got it right — the girl in the knee-high glossy leather boots, platinum-blonde wig, and the mini-skirt was a hooker.

The Swiss shop girl makes some good points.  Why didn’t Oprah complain?  Why didn’t she tell the owner of the store, who she attended a party with the next evening?  And, besides, who in the civilized world doesn’t know who Oprah Winfrey is?  And that she could more than afford such a purse?

The shop girl claims flat-out that Oprah is not telling the truth.  It looks to me like Oprah got caught up in the Sharptonism sweeping the country since the Zimmerman shooting, and I suspect she was embellishing a bit.  She has already expressed regret and says she is sorry that it became such a big deal.  I truly believe she regrets saying it, and still think Oprah is a paragon of the American spirit.  But this event and the comparison of Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till has revealed the tiniest crack in her veneer.

The way to repair this crack is to admit that the story was embellished, and to admit that she too-quickly played the race-card, and to sincerely apologize to the shop girl for improperly calling her a racist.  In other words, Oprah needs to OWN up to it.


12 thoughts on “Et tu, Oprah?

  1. “Now she claims that a Swiss store-clerk discriminated against her when she attempted to buy an almost $40,000 purse. She told the reporter that it was an example of racism.”

    Here is what I expect may have really happened.

    But first, consider that if you have a traffic accident and many witnesses that are interviewed afterwards. Chances are pretty good you will get a fair amount of contradicting statements. Just the way it is, people don’t always see what really happens. Often they see what they expect to happen.

    So you get a Swiss saleslady who’s native language may be German (or French or Italian in Switzerland, depending on where) talking to Oprah in english. This lady in her mind is not saying “You can’t look at that purse because it is obviously too expensive for you.” At least that is not what she thinks she is saying. Maybe she is a little afraid to handle it herself, it is so expensive, and thinks (as she said she said), “this one is just like it.”

    Of course Oprah being a black is herself conditioned to see racism in just about everything. So maybe there was, and maybe there was not, but a lot of blacks are so conditioned that they see almost anything in terms of racism.

    That’s my guess. Both the saleslady and Oprah saw and heard something different. But you know, given all the money Oprah has, and all the adoring white fans, she could have probably dealt with it better. But then again, maybe her own prejudices tripped her up (they trip us all up – all in all she seems like an extremely gracious lady, usually, and not considering her politics which I personally deplore)


  2. What you say is true, But, in Oprah’s case something more. Look into the simple facts, it began with her interview with E News talking about her movie ‘The Help’ ( which is about racism) . She segues the interview to talk about her personal contact with perceived racism in Switzerland. What a coincidence!!! Oprah is a remarkable actress and ‘showman’!! In hindsight does anybody honestly believe this interview wasn’t scripted( she’s Oprah, for God’s sake) and a media stunt to promote her new movie. HER MOVIE!!! DUH!! Also, check out the recent remarks the store clerk made….calling Oprah a liar.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen some speculation about it being a PR stunt for the movie. That would be even worse than the scenarios I considered. I think I’d rather believe it was just a language issue or a simple misunderstanding. But if Oprah played the race-card for publicity, that’s disgraceful. Thanks for the comment!

    2. ” In hindsight does anybody honestly believe this interview wasn’t scripted…”

      Could be. But at a higher level if you look at Oprah’s career in film, is it not largely about racism and the negative effects of racism? She is hugely programmed to see everything through the filter of “racism.” Remember the movie “The Color Purple”? Now “The Help”.

      That I think is the real tragedy of racism in this country, the belief that only blacks “get it” and generation after generation of white people that had nothing to do with it need to continue to feel guilty about it. Many whites contribute to the problem by accepting unearned guilt for acts they did not commit.

      The real problem today is black racism – as illustrated by this incident with Oprah – and the demand by blacks that their beliefs and perceptions cannot be morally challenged.

      It is holding on to this that in part prevents progress. There are other parts, and I would say the guilt there lies with a lot white liberals who commit – in the words of Thomas Sowell – the “soft racism of low expectations.”


  3. lwk,
    all good talking points. But I’ll like to remind you to the simple facts of life in the movie business, there’s no such thing as bad press. It’s all good pr.
    Simply, this was a made up story to have people totally aware of her movie.
    And if you look at it in this way, and see her motivation, you hopefully will see what a brilliant actress and outstanding promoter she is!

    1. “…n the movie business, there’s no such thing as bad press. It’s all good pr.”

      Saw this story on Breitbart today:


      Tarnishes her reputation. The rich and powerful picking on people because they can, because they have false perceptions, or to advance an already multi-billion dollar fortune is no good excuse.

      She should offer a sincere apology in my view. Hell, in my view a lot of blacks ought to offer a sincere apology. 🙂


    2. That’s true. I am leaning toward the publicity theory, too. But it may or may not be good PR. While it may boost sales for the movie, it could have negative long-term effects on the “Oprah” brand. I still love her, though.

  4. lwk, overman,
    It’s all good in Oprah’s eyes. People actually said that they didn’t mind Oprah’s story and the coincidence of promoting the movie coming out. They had no problems with the moral aspect of truth of this incident because at one time or another in Oprah’s life, by the nature of her being Black, she must have experienced some degree of racism. So it was OK to trash this store clerk for the greater good!

  5. lwk,
    I saw article by breitbart you linked. If you notice today’s headlines, which all include some form of the word RACISM ,

    “Now Oprah says sorry: Chat show queen says she regrets ever mentioning the racist handbag incident ….” Daily Mail

    “Oprah Winfrey apologizes for naming Switzerland in store racism incident..”
    Daily News

    “Oprah’s Encounter With Racism Results In Apology From Swiss Tourism Office” Huff Post

    and so on, and so on.
    But Oprah’s now trying to distance her from the actual story she first related by using words like’ I guess I didn’t dress up enough’ or store clerks can be ‘ hooty- patooty(?)’ all the while letting her underlying( and lying is the keyword) accusations of racism remain intact. Boy, is she good!!! She’s deserves an Oscar for this role!!! Again, I say, does anyone now believe that OPRAH could really be cowed by a store clerk, in any country or in any language. Oh ,I guess that if a store clerk was just so ‘hooty- patooty’ enough, and Oprah just happened at the same exact time to be promoting her new movie about racism. Then I guess, Oprah could feel the necessity of acting just so,as if she was being ‘put in her place’ thru this horrifying fear , intimidation and racism.

    But, this is real life, people. She may be a great actress alright but who is writing her material and directing her?

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