Hi Meltingpot Readers,
So, some of you have already you expressed your opinions, frustrations and disgust over this incident that was reported last week. For those of you who don’t follow Oprah’s every move, apparently the royal O, was shopping in Switzerland. She was in a fancy store and was looking at some fancy purses and reportedly when she asked to see one particular bag with a $38,000 price tag on it, the storekeeper refused to show it to her claiming it would be too expensive. She then tried to offer her some less expensive merchandise. Here’s a link from the HuffingtonPost to how this story was originally reported.
Today however, everybody from Oprah herself to the Swiss tourism authority is apologizing, in a way that seems to suggest that it was all just one, big,
black misunderstanding. Oprah stands by her story, but now insists she doesn’t require an apology from the country of Switzerland. The shopkeeper herself claims because she speaks Italian better than English it was just a communication error and she was just trying to be helpful. The only person not apologizing is the alligator who had to lose his life to become that $40,000 purse. But I digress.
Is Switzerland racist? Is that the question we should be asking after all this? Or should we be focusing on the fact that somebody would pay almost $40,000 for a purse? I know that is so not the point of this story, but I can not understand why anybody – even with a $77 million annual salary –wants to buy a purse that costs the same amount as a decent car, two year’s of a college tuition, or the down payment on a $250,000 house. Come on, Oprah. But that’s just me. Let’s get back to Switzerland.
I’d hate for an entire country to be labeled as racist based on a single incident. I mean, if we’re going to judge a country based on one Black American’s experience there, what about Tina Turner? She has lived in Switzerland for years. She just married a Swiss man and claims she has a better life as a Black woman in Switzerland than she would in the United States. Thankfully, some journalists have taken the time to investigate the claim that the Swiss have a ‘chocolate’ problem after the Oprah incident. Time magazine came up with the following article, titled “Switzerland’s Xenophobia: It’s Not Just About Oprah. The article explores the current climate in Swiss society as it relates to immigrants, asylum seekers and marginally, people of color. Based on that article, it would seem the Swiss are struggling like most other Western European nations with the concept of a multicultural society.
I’d love to hear from you, dear readers. My world travelers. Have you ever been to Switzerland? What was your impression of the country as it relates to diversity and relations between different cultures? Any thoughts and/or insights are always appreciated. This is where the real learning happens. You know I’m listening.