A group of women, who have prompted the twitter tag “laughing while black,” were kicked off a wine train that takes visitors on an 18-mile trek through scenic Napa Valley. The eleven women, part of the Sistahs of the Reading Edge book club, boarded the train last weekend, but found themselves dumped off after reportedly being too loud. After a bit of back and forth, the wine train’s CEO has issued a formal apology to the group.
Reports The Associated Press on Aug. 25: “Wine train chief executive officer Anthony ‘Tony’ Giaccio issued a statement Tuesday saying the company was ‘100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue.’ Giaccio pledged to offer additional diversity training for employees. He also asked for their apologies for their ‘many mistakes and failures.’”
As previously reported, the hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack ramped up momentum this week the group of women – one of whom is a grandmother in her 80s – were unceremoniously ejected from the Napa Valley Wine Train. Social media exploded over the incident, and many called to boycott the train and its “racist” policies.
The group was told by staff on the train that they were being asked to leave because of “loud and disruptive” behavior, based on complaints from other passengers and three attempts to get the group to “tone it down.”
“It was humiliating. I’m really offended to be quite honest,” said book club member 47-year-old Lisa Johnson. “I felt like it was a racist attack on us. I feel like we were being singled out.” Johnson says they were admittedly “rambunctious,” but not “obnoxious or intoxicated.”
Napa Valley Wine Train spokeswoman Kira Devitt said they “received complaints from several parties in the same car and 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…The Napa Valley Wine Train does not enjoy removing guests from our trains, but takes these things very seriously in order to ensure the enjoyment and safety of all of our guests.”
After a few days of social media fallout, CEO Giaccio recently took it a step further, saying the entire incident was “regrettable” on the part of the train’s staff.
“We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests,” he said, addng that he has personally apologized to the women and offered to treat Johnson and fifty of her friends to a return visit on his dime.
Adds California’s Press-Democrat: “Giaccio also said that the company should have known well in advance that the group was going to be ‘loud, fun-loving and boisterous — because you told us well in advance that you wanted a place where your club could enjoy each other’s company.’”