A group of women from a California book club describe the abrupt ending to their wine train trip as “humiliating.” This group of women, which included a grandmother of 83, were escorted off the train by police about half-way through the 18-mile trip.
According to News Max on August 25, the women said they were just starting out on this trip, so it wasn’t as if they’d had too much wine and became riled up. They were just laughing and having a good time. They honestly believe their trip’s demise was due to their race.
Lisa Johnson, 47, was one of the 11 members of the Sisters on the Reading Edge Book Club said, “I felt like it was a racist attack on us. I feel like we were being singled out.” She also said about the ordeal was that “It was humiliating. I’m really offended to be quite honest.” This wasn’t a group of rebellious teens, these women were a group of friends who have the love of reading in common, among other things.
The Napa Valley Wine Train company originally wrote on their Facebook page; “Following verbal and physical abuse toward other guests and staff, it was necessary to get our police involved.” That was short-lived and taken down to make way for the spokesperson from the train company, Kira Devitt. She took to Facebook to clarify that the company “received complaints from several parties in the same car” about the group’s noise level, according to AJC.com today. This was softer than the original posting.
Devitt rationalized the removal of the women from the train stating; “After three attempts from staff, requesting that the group keep the noise to an acceptable level, they were removed from the train and offered transportation back to the station in Napa.” This didn’t hold water for Johnson who said, “We were truly kicked out because we were ‘laughing while black’ . . . It was racially charged.”
The group of 11 woman were having fun and laughing along the trip and Johnson reports the waitstaff said they were no louder than any other group of 11 people to hop on the train. Johnson also said that the waitstaff didn’t agree with the company ousting the book club off this train and involving the police.
Johnson, who was only stating the group’s case to the media when she said they were guilty of “laughing while black,” probably had no idea that she had just coined a phrase that was about to go viral, “laughing while black.” After stating her case on social media, people from all over read what she had to say. This ‘humiliating’ train ride became headline news and the morning news shows picked up her story.
It wasn’t long before the train company changed the reprimanding mode of their statement to offer an unmistakable apology. They said, “We want to apologize to them for their experience and listen to their concerns and complaints.” The apology was slow-coming, but arrived! According to the video above, that apology was “shrugged off” by the women of the book club.