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Oprah talks to 'Entertainment Tonight' about Paula Deen, racism

Posted by Emily Wright  August 6, 2013 01:40 PM

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"Entertainment Tonight" host Nancy O'Dell sat down with Oprah Winfrey, who plays Gloria Gaines in the upcoming film, "The Butler," and talked about Paula Deen's use of the N word and Winfrey's own recent bout with racism in Switzerland.

When asked about Deen's use of the particular racial slur, Winfrey said that she doesn't think the former Food TV star is the only one saying it.

"I think Paula Deen was used as sort of like a symbol, but I think lots of people use the word inappropriately all the time."

Winfrey later remarked that she had never been called the "N word" herself because "Racism for me doesn't show itself that way. Nobody in their right mind, unless they're a Twitter thug, is going to call me the N word."

"True racisim is being able to have power over somebody else. So that doesn't happen to me that way. It shows up for me this way, it shows up that sometimes I'm in a board room or I'm in certain situations where I'm the only woman, or I'm the only African American person within a 100 mile radius, and I can see in the energy of the people there, they don't sense that I should be holding one of those seats. I can sense that. I can never tell is it racism or is it sexism, because often it's both. The sexism thing is huge. The higher the ladder you climb, it gets huge."

Although Winfrey said she does not face overt racism on a regular basis in the States, she did deal with it while in Zurich for Tina Turner's wedding this summer.

"I don't have it in the same way other people have it but, I will tell you this. I was in Zurich for Tina Turner's wedding. Stedman [Graham] wasn't there. Gayle [King] wasn't there. No friends. I go into a store that shall remain unnamed and I say to the woman, 'May I see that bag right above your head?' and she says to me 'No. It's too expensive.' And I said 'No, no, no, the black one, the one that's folded over,' and she said, 'No, no, no, you don't want to see that one, you want to see this one because that one will cost too much. You won't be able to afford that one'."

Winfrey eventually left the store without purchasing anything after realizing that the salesperson would probably make commission off of anything she bought.

"I could have had the big blow up thing and thrown down the black card and all that stuff, but why do that?" Winfrey added.

As for whether or not Winfrey will sit down with Deen in the future for a one-on-one interview, Winfrey said that celeb chef will have to let the dust settle and see where she stands before that can happen.

In the past, Deen let Winfrey and King, as well as the OWN cameras, into her home for an exclusive tour. Take a look at that video from March, 2012 above.


About Pop Radar's entertainment staff brings you the latest celebrity news and pop culture updates, along with discussions on the day's hot topics. And you're invited to weigh in. Let's dish.


Katie McLeod is's features editor.

Kristi Palma is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at

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