Women Humiliated, Kicked Off Of Train

It was supposed to be a relaxing, joyous weekend ride on a Napa Valley Wine Train.

Instead, it turned into a humiliating experience for a group of African American women on Saturday.

47-year-old Lisa Johnson was booted off of the tour for laughing and talking too loudly, and she, along with other members of her book club, questioned whether or not they would have been treated differently if they were not Black.
“It was humiliating. I’m really offended to be quite honest,” Johnson told the SF Gate. “I felt like it was a racist attack on us. I feel like we were being singled out.”

Accounts of the incident have gone viral across social media. The hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack captures Johnson’s experience.

Kira Devitt is a spokeswoman for the Napa Valley Wine Train company, which issued a full refund to the ladies. Devitt released the following statement:

“[The company] 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.”

Johnson says her book club, the Sisters on the Reading Edge, embarked on the tour around 11 a.m. on Saturday for their annual trip through wine country.

Johnson, who describes herself as a social media fanatic, posted pictures on Facebook as the episode unfolded.

The women were all seated in the same car in adjacent tables and seats, laughing and having fun. They, along with the other passengers, ordered glasses of wine and apps as they rode the 18-mile stretch from Napa to St. Helena for their annual trip.
Johnson admitted to the group having moments of “rambunctiousness,” but says they were not “obnoxious or intoxicated.”

Several passengers, she said, even came up to them to take pictures, and asked about the novel they were reading for their club. But moments into their trip, Johnson said the manager asked them to quiet down.
“The train is set up to be with your friends, to drink wine and have a good time,” Johnson said. “We were thinking, ‘Who are we offending?’”

Later on, the manager told the group that “this isn’t going to work,” and that if they did not “tone it down,” they would be asked to get off the train, Johnson said.

Johnson also said that one of the women in the same car told the group, which included an 83-year-old woman, “that isn’t a bar.”

“It was a bizarre thing for all of us,” she said, adding that many in the group quieted down and wondered what happened.