Oprah didn’t hold back when talking about racism in a new interview that aired in the U.K. While promoting her current film The Butler, Winfrey said the film’s subject matter is highly relevant because racism is still alive and well in the U.S. Winfrey also said that it won’t end until older generations of racists who are “marinated” in racism eventually die out.
Speaking to interviewer Will Gompertz, the OWN Network star said that “there are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die.”
Winfrey also believed that President Barack Obama had experienced blatant racism during his two terms in office. “I think that there is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs,” she stated. “And that occurs in some cases or maybe even many cases because he is African-American. There’s no question about that and it’s the kind of thing nobody ever says, but everybody’s thinking it.”
She has also been the victim of high-profile racism in recent months. After being called a “field ni**er” earlier this summer by black actress Rae Dawn Chong, Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight that she was subject to a racist remark from a store employee while shopping in Switzerland. The talk show icon was advised by a store employee that she “would not be able to afford” an expensive handbag she had her eyes on. The bag was priced at a hefty $38,000, but it’s mere pennies for a woman who has earned $77 million in the last year alone.
Both the shop owner and the Swiss tourism board apologized to Winfrey for the racist treatment she received while shopping. The shop owner, Trudie Goetz, told the BBC that the employee in question “speaks English, but not as well as her mother tongue.” A spokeswoman for the Swiss Tourism Board also told the Associated Press: “We think all of our guests and clients should be treated respectfully, in a professional way.” Winfrey said afterwards that she accepted the apologies and hoped to visit Switzerland again in the future.