Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Think Oprah Winfrey is immune to racism? Even the Queen of, well, everything has to deal with clueless people, probably more often than we think.

On a recent trip to Zurich, Switzerland to attend Tina Turner’s wedding (and how cool is that?!), Oprah stopped by the Trois Pomme boutique on Bahnhofstrasse — the third most expensive street in the world — to pick up a new handbag.

“No. It’s too expensive,” the shopkeeper told Oprah when she asked to see the bag, priced at $40,000.

“One more time, I tried,” Oprah told Entertainment Tonight. “I said, ‘But I really do just want to see that one,’ and the shopkeeper said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to hurt your feelings,’ and I said, ‘Okay, thank you so much. You’re probably right, I can’t afford it.’ And I walked out of the store.”

Let’s refresh our memory here. Oprah made $77 million last year alone. She can afford that handbag. Though, ok, let’s be honest, who pays $40K for a handbag? Even if you CAN afford it, isn’t that money better spent elsewhere? Like saving a third world country? And yes, I know Oprah is one of the most charitable people on the planet, and yes, I know people can spend their money however they want. But really?!!!

Oprah said of the encounter, “I could’ve had the whole blow-up thing and thrown down the black card, but why do that? But that clearly is, you know… [Racism] still exists. Of course it does.”

The Swiss folks are falling all over themselves to apologize. “[It was] obviously very regrettable,” Zurich Tourism communications director Christian Trottmann said to CBS News. The tourism office tweeted, “This person acted terribly wrong.”

The shop’s owner Trudie Goetz, blamed the whole thing on a “misunderstanding,” saying Oprah got the shoddy treatment because the assistant didn’t recognize her.

But why does she have to recognize her to treat her with respect? Shouldn’t everyone be treated the same?

Leave thoughts below. Did Oprah do the right thing? Or should she have thrown down the Black Card (I would have! She’s way more zen than me). 


  1. Crap, that store owner just dug herself/himself into a deeper hole by saying that the clerk didn’t recognize Oprah. “I’m sorry,” but that person should be fired. And “I’m sorry,” but that store owner needs an education and needs to pass that education along to his/her employees. There aren’t many black people in Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland, though, so the unfortunate reality is that there are probably people in the country who have never even seen a black person. Oprah was probably the first to ever set foot in that store, but couldn’t they tell (jut like they could a white person) that she was dressed well and, therefore, potentially capable of actually making a purchase?

  2. Just read that there are apparently a lot of African asylum-seekers in Switzerland now. I was there just 3 years ago and don’t recall seeing any Africans. What’s distressing is that they’re proposing restricting the asylum-seekers from public areas. I have always loved Switzerland, but if they do that, I’m done until they change that law.


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