Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Green Don't Mean A Thing When Racism is Queen!

Last week, journalists and social media went into a frenzy when news broke that a store clerk in Switzerland refused to allow Oprah Winfrey a closer look at the expensive handbag she was admiring in an upscale store. Oprah is America's first self-made woman billionaire and one of the few in the world who made their money without a husband or inheritance. Oprah is the brand, the product and the service.

As I listened to news reports and read social media comments, many questioned whether it was a racial incident or not. I contend without question it was racial. There is one simple rule to determine retail racial profiling, "Did the store clerk refuse to show the handbag to any of the white customers who asked to see it?" If the answer is yes, then it is not a racial incident and she treated all customers the same. I hardly believe if Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx and also a self-made billionaire who is white, would have been treated in the same manner.

According to reported comments the store owner Trudie Goetz made, the poor clerk was upset. She was merely trying to communicate with Oprah and show her options. If that was so, then show her the option she wanted to see. Oprah is a very intelligent woman and her unique ability to communicate is largely responsible for her fame and fortune.  It is not likely that after repeating to the clerk three times she wanted to see the Tom Ford handbag there was a communication issue. 

I don't feel sorry for Oprah. She certainly can buy anything she really wants. I am sad about the incident and the fact that we still live in a world where a person can earn enough money to purchase a car, house, yacht or any expensive items they desire and be denied because of their skin color.  As many reasonsTrudie Goetz offered for her employee's actions, there is simply no excuse that would cover ignorance. The worldwide racial profiling of people of color whether men, women or youth is a reminder that money can be a non-factor when people are color blind.

Hatred and ignorance has a permanent place in the minds and hearts of many people.  We can't change that, but like Oprah, we can take the high road.  She was much more effective by choosing the right timing to tell the story, rather than creating a scene about it while in Switzerland. The store owner not only lost a possible thirty-eight thousand dollar sell, but received some embarrassing and unwanted publicity for her upscale store. The cost of the handbag is really irrelevant.  Many women of color including myself have similar experiences in stores where handbags are much less. It’s a horrible feeling to know you are being profiled while shopping. I get angry, but like Oprah, I leave without making a purchase.

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Chicago, IL, United States
“Mo Better” Inspiration is an arena for a sharing of informative, education, and discussions on issues pertaining to our world, lifestyles, communities, personal growth, inspiration, and cultural awareness. “Mo Better” Inspiration is a global blog where people with similarities and differences can exchange information, ideas and viewpoints designed for a positive blog experience. I encourage people from around the world to participate in engaging discussions that stimulate the mind.