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Thursday, June 30, 2005
Luxury store refuses to let star enter, later apologizes.

Whether Oprah Winfrey was turned away from a bit of after hours shopping in Paris because of a racist employee or special event, news of the confrontation outside a luxury stores has evoked empathy and anger from many American minorities who say they are routinely treated poorly -- and sometimes with outright suspicion -- by sales staffs in this country.

The Winfrey case has sparked discussion of what many see as a chronic problem for minorities -- particularly in high end stores -- no matter how educated, wealthy or accomplished the customer.

"The presumption in America is that if you have the wealth, you'll get equality -- but where's Ophrah's equality
? asked Bruce D. Haynes, a sociologist at the University of California-Davis.

The incident occured when Winfrey stopped by Hermes in Paris on June 14 to buy a watch minutes after the boutique closed. Though she and three friends said they saw shoppers inside, neither a sales clerk nor manager would let them in.

Winfrey's friend, Gayle King, who was there, told "Entertainment Tonight", "Oprah describes it as 'one of the most humiliating moments of her life'" Harpro says Winfrey plans to discuss the incident in teh context of race relations on her show this fall.

Hermes said in a statement it "regrets not having been able to welcome" Winfrey to store, but that a private public relations event was prepared inside".

'Clearly Bigoted'

Many companions faial to grasp that big spending customers now come from every background imaginable, said Luke Visconti, co-founder of Diversity, a New Jersey based business that advises companies on diversity issues.

Hermes, in its treatment of Winfrey and its response -- "blew it to a degree that's hard to imagine", he said, "It's clearly bigoted ...Think about what this did to their business.Think about all those people who have been oppressed (by this kind of behaviour) whoa re going to be sympathetic to Oprah and not go back there".

Emil Wilbiken, former editor of Vibe Magazine, said it's not uncommon for black celebrities to receive poor treatment at high-end stores. Sean "P.Diddy" Combs had devised a tactic to avoid poor treatment, he said.

"Puffy sends his people ahead to stores and shuts them down so he can shop privately, so this kind of thing does'nt happen", Wilbiken said.

(abstracted from Associated Press by : Erin Texeria)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:14 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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