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