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.