Book Club: Racism Got Us Kicked Off Wine Train

Book club members say they had to do 'walk of shame' off the train in 'racist attack'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2015 9:04 AM CDT
Book Club: Racism Got Us Kicked Off Wine Train
In this photo taken June 2, 2011, a couple takes pictures at the back of the Napa Valley Wine Train as it makes its way through St. Helena, Calif.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Members of a book club out for a ride through California wine country say they endured a "humiliating" experience Saturday when they were kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The women from the Sistahs on the Reading Edge club—10 of them black, one white, per the Napa Valley Register—say they were racially targeted for laughing and talking too loud. "It was humiliating," Lisa Johnson tells the Chronicle. "I'm really offended. ... I felt like it was a racist attack on us." Johnson, who posted photos on Facebook, says members of her group, all seated adjacent to each other on the 18-mile ride, may have been "rambunctious," but they weren't "obnoxious or intoxicated." In fact, she notes, several passengers befriended them—except for one woman pointed out in one of her Facebook photos, who reportedly told the group "this isn't a bar."

"No one told us of any noise ordinance," Johnson tells the Register. "If you get a group of 11 women talking and laughing, it's going to be loud." A Napa Valley Wine Train rep said in a statement that staff "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," per the Chronicle. The #LaughingWhileBlack hashtag has emerged on Twitter to support the women, while a Yelp reviewer who says she witnessed the women being escorted off says, "I'd like to believe it wasn't a racially motivated act, but given the fact that other, non-black guests were behaving in the same way and not removed, I can only conclude that it was discrimination. This business belongs in the 'what is wrong with our country' category." (More California stories.)

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