Yesha Callahan

These Black Women Were Kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train for #LaughingWhileBlack

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Driving while Black, attending a pool part while Black, walking while Black, and shopping while Black are all things that can get your arrested or even killed. Now, we can apparently add a new item to the list of things Black people can’t do freely—laughing on a wine train.

On Saturday, a group of book club members–10 Black, one white–boarded the Napa Valley Wine Train to celebrate one of the ladies’ birthday. While they were excited when the excursion began, the day quickly took a humiliating turn.

“We thought the purpose of the Wine Train was to have a good time and enjoy being with a large group. No one told us of any noise ordinance. If you get a group of 11 women talking and laughing, it’s going to be loud,” Lisa Johnson, one of the book club members, told the Napa Valley Register.

According to Johnson, the maître d asked the ladies to quiet down twice, citing complaints from others, but Johnson says the lone complaint came from a white female passenger sitting near the group.

“She said people were complaining and I said, ‘Who’s complaining?’ And she said, ‘Well, people’s faces are uncomfortable,’” said Johnson. “At that point, one passenger nearby said, ‘Well, this is not a bar.’ We reacted, ‘Yes, it is a bar, a bar on wheels.'”

The women, including one over 80-years-old,  elderly, were booted off the train at the next stop where they were met by four police officers.

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“We were paraded; 10 African-American women and one white woman, being paraded through the cars with four police officers outside,” Johnson said.

She added, “It was humiliating. I’m really offended to be quite honest. I felt like it was a racist attack on us. I feel like we were being singled out.”

The Napa Valley Wine Train issued a full refund to the group, but also claimed they called the police after “verbal and physical abuse” of other passengers.

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Johnson, who detailed the entire ordeal on her Facebook page, called the now-deleted Facebook post from the Napa Valley Wine Train “unacceptable.”

After news spread about the women’s ordeal across social media, folks began flooding the Napa Valley Wine Train Yelp page with negative reviews, including one from an apparent witness.

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Johnson, who has been speaking to media outlets all weekend, hopes this never happens to anyone else again.

  1. August 24, 2015 - Reply

    Sisters, I’m so sick and tired of all the hate we receive.
    I’m so tired!

    • August 24, 2015 - Reply

      @Lucky502

      In the words of Michael Jackson, “You are not alone.”

  2. August 24, 2015 - Reply

    For racists, the fact that we have the nerve to be Living while Black alone is bad enough, how dare we aspire to do anything else while Black?

    • August 24, 2015 - Reply

      @Adebisi's Hat

      What’s more, we dare not “congregate,” laugh, or talk because they become suspicious. They think we are trying to overthrow the world.

      • August 25, 2015 - Reply

        @Noirluv45

        Truth.

  3. August 24, 2015 - Reply

    This is a total disgrace. When you even have another passengers (named Danielle S) saying that these Sisters were unfairly treated, then that is a problem. These Sisters never deserved to be treated as criminals. They shouldn’t have been forced off the train. These women are not criminals. They were just laughing and enjoying themselves. Racism and racial profiling have no place in any location on this Earth. Microaggressions didn’t end during the 1960’s. I feel sorry for these Sisters and I wish the best for them.

  4. August 24, 2015 - Reply

    If there is no noise ordinance and a group wants to party, then train management needs to make that known before, not after. One lady said it was obvious discrimination and management said the women did verbal and physical abuse to others on the train. Really? A book club did that? I find that hard to believe so I’d like to hear from more witnesses, personally.

    I”ve been on this wine train a few times with my boyfriend and once with 5
    girlfriends and it’s a very “sedate” and quiet trip for sight seeing,
    lunch or dinner, which the focus is the beautiful scenery of the Napa
    Valley wine country. My gf’s and I were told to keep it down too, and we
    did, so when we got off the train for wine tasting outdoors we had more fun doing that and chose not to go back (on the train trip) for that reason.

    • August 24, 2015 - Reply

      @disq141synergy

      “…management said the women did verbal and physical abuse to others on the train.” I guess the police have taught them well, and they’ve learned their tactics. All they have to do is play the “physical violence or their lives being threatened” card, and voila, they become a “threat” and get booted off the train, the police get called and the “threat” disappears. SMH.

      • August 24, 2015 - Reply

        @Noirluv45

        Perhaps so. But, others are coming forward who were removed from the train also for being loud (separate train ride) and they were white so maybe it isn’t a racial issue. How can anyone be sure that wasn’t there?

        • August 25, 2015 - Reply

          @disq141synergy

          It seems at least one white passenger who WAS there is saying just that. They personally witnessed the SAME behavior on the SAME train ( not a different one) and not only did no one complain, but they were not confronted or kicked off the train. It was the white passenger that even admitted in their Yelp review that they believe they had been audience to discrimination.

          • August 25, 2015 - Reply

            @Aria Whitaker

            I saw the Yelp review but anyone can write a Yelp review. What I’m saying is that It’s just as likely they were discriminated against as they were not. It’s all subjective.

            • August 25, 2015 - Reply

              @disq141synergy

              Right, but your point about “how could anyone really know if we weren’t there” is kind of moot since someone who WAS there has spoken out about it. Their eyewitness account has merit and shouldn’t be dismissed, IMO. You weren’t there…she was. Now if want to keep the denial train chugging along by low key hinting that she is lying (“anyone can write a Yelp review”).. then go ahead, but don’t bemoan the fact that “we don’t know b/c we weren’t there”..and then when someone who was actually there speaks up about it, try to dismiss them outright because what they are saying happened makes you uncomfortable.

              • August 25, 2015 - Reply

                @Aria Whitaker

                I agree anyone there has merit, but at the end of the day IMO, what we’ve discussed so far is about feelings which are subjective. And, I wasn’t being subtle bc she could have lied (would you be any less annoyed had I said just that?) and the white group who said they were thrown off of the train in a separate incident, they could have lied too. I don’t see what’s so wrong with that.

                I’ve been on this site commenting for a while now and I’m not afraid to discuss and admit racism. It takes a lot more than that to make me uncomfortable.

                • August 26, 2015 - Reply

                  @disq141synergy

                  I was curious, so I looked up that story about the “white passengers” that were kicked off as well….you know, the one you are using to illustrate why this “may not” be discrimination? They weren’t white. They were Latino, and not “white latino” either. So seeing as though they kicked off “loud” Hispanics, they kicked off “loud” blacks, but for some weird, strange, odd reason… the “loud” group of white ladies weren’t escorted off. Yeah, nothing racial here guys….

                  • August 26, 2015 - Reply

                    @Aria Whitaker

                    That’s a different story, there are so many…I was referring to this; “Incidents such as the one Saturday occur about once a month, he said. Most of the passengers who are removed from the train, he said, are white.” (S.Singer quoted). There is also now a story about a couple of white women in 2005 who said they drank so much they were stumbling on the stairs and licking their plates on the train and were not kicked off. People are on forums are claiming they or someone they know were on the train and witnessed this latest incident, who some feel it was discrimination and others do not. The list is endless and it will take time to sort out the claims.

                    Again, until or if/when it’s resolved I”m not calling it racism. You choose to say it is and that’s fine too. I can respect your opinion, but you can’t respect mine. But know that you will never succeed in your attempts to dictate what I should think.

                    • August 27, 2015 - Reply

                      @disq141synergy

                      Oh no! You mean I’ll NEVER succeed? Whatever will I do??!!? Girl, please. I don’t care to “dictate” your opinion and you can think whatever you want…I was simply pointing out a portion of your “opinion” that simply didn’t make sense. Have your opinion, but don’t make a inquiry about “how can we know if we were not there?”, then when someone points out an account of the story who WAS there, you dismiss it. That was my only point of contention with your ” opinion”, not the opinion itself.

                      • August 27, 2015 - Reply

                        @Aria Whitaker

                        “don’t make a inquiry about “how can we know if we were not there?”, then
                        when someone points out an account of the story who WAS there, you
                        dismiss it.” I have a right to dismiss any point you make, that’s what people do when they discuss things, each has a right to accept or not what the other brings up. Since you put emphasis on who was there, what about the white lady on the train who complained in the first place?

                        • August 27, 2015 - Reply

                          @disq141synergy

                          Yes because every post that anyone replies to they have some deep vested interest in and care for…except for when they don’t. Except for when the only reason for replying is to point out crap that doesn’t make sense in the post. YOU are the one that tried to make some point about the OP and others having not been there so they don’t know what happened. When someone points out they were there and do know…that’s not good enough either. Stop moving goalposts and stay consistent with ” what you bring up” and you won’t have anyone calling you out on your BS.

                          • August 27, 2015 - Reply

                            @Aria Whitaker

                            To me it IS about both a) who was there and b) how they experienced what they saw, how loud was too loud, etc. c) That goes for all of the people on the train that day. Just because I didn’t elaborate with b) in the same post as a) doesn’t mean I’m changing goal points.

                            I have a right to express my opinions as the conversation unfolds, but once again you’ve tried to dictate. “When someone points out they were there and do know…that’s not good enough either”. It’s obvious what you’re really upset about is that I’m not taking one person’s word for it. Again,the Yelp lady wasn’t the only one on the train and according to your logic that means nothing, yet you say my posts don’t make sense?? Keep it classy, I’m getting ready for my 3 day weekend.

  5. August 24, 2015 - Reply

    There is no reason why this group should’ve been kicked off this train. I guess the other passengers were stuffy and couldn’t handle a group of women being carefree and having fun.

    This reminds me of an Amtrak trip I took from the Seattle area to Vancouver, WA. When I boarded the train, I called my sister to let her know I was aboard. The rules are that if a person is going to be on a long call, they need to go to a designated area as to not disturb the other passengers. That was not the case with me. My phone call was less than 3 minutes. The conductor rudely told me to get off the phone or go to one of those designated areas. I couldn’t help but notice that other people (not of the same hue as I) were talking up a storm, but guess what? Not one word was spoken about their phone calls. What’s more, the rules state that conversations must be kept relatively quiet as to not disturb other passengers. I guess that rule didn’t apply to the White boy who pulled out his guitar and started playing to the delight of the White passengers. No word was spoken to him, I presume because the White folks wanted to hear his strumming. I didn’t, and I was offended.

    America = one rule for the masses — another rule for the rest of us.

    • August 24, 2015 - Reply

      @Noirluv45

      That’s Amerikkka for you. It’s a shame that you have experienced that injustice Sister.

  6. August 24, 2015 - Reply

    It truly is a shame some of the experiences black women have to face everyday.

  7. August 24, 2015 - Reply

    Double standard much? This is just sickening.

  8. August 25, 2015 - Reply

    napa valley wine train could bring back the segregated railroad cars based on race to minimize the interactions between blacks and whites – – separate but equal?

  9. August 25, 2015 - Reply

    Thank goodness nobody was shot.

  10. September 5, 2015 - Reply

    I’m @ a loss for words. Just tired of whites who continually perpetuate bigotry & racism towards blacks & other non whites.
    Napa valley wine train company will not be getting our $ or business.
    I’ll be sure to share this story with as many people as possible so that this company loses a significant amount of financial support. No excuse for treating ANYONE in the way those 11 women were treated!

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