Laughing while black! Recently 11 African-American women were kicked off of the Napa Valley wine train for doing nothing more than laughing and enjoying themselves. The women, who were members of a book club, were told by staff that they were being too loud. One white passenger was apparently irritated, telling them the train, which exists for the sole purpose of serving wine was “not a bar.” Others on the tour complained that they were causing a disturbance and the women, one of whom is 84, were booted from the train as police looked on. As if that weren’t humiliating enough, the company actually had the nerve to publish a post on Facebook regarding the incident accusing the women of “verbal and physical abuse” toward other guests and staff.
On Tuesday the company made a statement admitting that those charges were “inaccurate.”
But one of the women in the group, Lisa Johnson said that the post was only removed after
she contacted Napa Valley Wine Train and threatened to sue if the false charges were not
removed from Facebook.
Now, of course, the company is offering the group a free wine tour for 50 people. Making
this condescending claim, “You can enjoy yourself as loudly as you desire,”
After this story broke, another man says he and a group of Latinos were discriminated against
during an earlier trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train.
This story begs the question. Do African-Americans still have to have to wear the mask? A
poem written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar in 1896 is still quite accurate in describing the plight
of black people in America. “We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and
shades our eyes, This debt we pay to human guile;”
As an African-American in this country it seems as if your every move is under scrutiny. It
never seems to be a matter of right or wrong as much as it is a matter of whether our actions
are deemed right or wrong by whoever designates themselves to be the guardian of “good
taste” on any given day. Bigotry, hatred, and prejudice have a tendency to label anything and
everything that its victims do as insulting. Something as simple as laughing, and having a
good time in public can be seen as offensive and disturbing to those who resent the fact that
we actually have the nerve to be free and act like it.