You don't have to be poor and disenfranchised to feel the sting of racism, as Oprah Winfrey, the $77 million-a-year publisher/television network owner/actor/self-help maven demonstrated last week when she recounted an unsavory shopping experience in a Swiss boutique.
In Zurich to attend Tina Turner's wedding, which, incidentally, was photographed without authorization by what may be the world's first remote-controlled paparazzi drone, Winfrey spent some time shopping.
At one shop she came across a Tom Ford-designed handbag that sold for nearly $40,000. Winfrey told "Entertainment Tonight" host Nancy O'Dell that when she expressed interest in the bag, she was told by a sales associate "No. It's too expensive."
No truer words were probably ever spoken, had they been directed at me, who considers Tamarack a bit beyond the outer limits of upscale shopping. But the $40K bag -- along with the shop in question and a good chunk of beautiful downtown Zurich -- was well within Winfrey's disposable income budget.
Winfrey said that when she asked again to see the bag, a saleswoman reportedly stated, "Oh, I don't want to hurt your feelings," to which the celebrity said she replied "OK, thank you so much. You're probably right -- I can't afford it," and walked out of the store.
When contacted later about the incident, according to an article in Salon, the store's owner said the encounter was a "misunderstanding," but did little to erase concerns about stereotyping.
"I have to admit the employee is Italian," she said.