In August of 2015, a book club called Sistahs on the Reading Edge, consisting of ten black women and one white, were ejected from a train touring Napa Valley wineries. They were accused of “laughing loudly,” which inspired the Twitter hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack, and also a discrimination lawsuit.
Employees claimed that the women were aggressive in response to warnings to be quieter. They were then forced to disembark, and found police waiting for them. At the time, club leader Lisa Renee Johnson wrote:
I’ve slept and I’m no less angry and humiliated this morning than yesterday. WE were paying customers too. They paraded us through 6 cars on display in front of the other guests to waiting police like we were criminals. Then they made a written public statement on social media that we verbally and physically abused other guest and staff...one word. UNACCEPTABLE!
This can NEVER happen to anyone else ever again...
The original suit sought $11 million in damages, as in addition to the public humiliation, two of the women also lost their jobs in the ensuing viral brouhaha. The two sides entered private mediation and reached a settlement for a confidential number.
When the suit was instigated last August, the Napa Valley Wine Train said that their employee wasn’t exhibiting racial bias, but “acute insensitivity” when they kicked out a bunch of wild readers between the ages of 39 and 85.
The club has been around for 18 years, and plans a yearly visit to the Napa Valley. They told The New York Times that next year they’ll be hiring a chauffeur.
Image via AP.
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