*Update, 8/25/2015: Napa Valley Wine Tour’s CEO has issued a public apology, saying that they were “100% wrong” in how they handled the situation. He has also issued a longer apology to the book club, offering them a reserved car on a future trip. Read the full apology here (H/t Clutch). Post title updated to reflect apology.
The story of 10 black women, members of a book club that were unceremoniously removed from the Napa Valley Wine Train for allegedly being too loud, immediately resonated on social media, prompting the hashtag “#LaughingWhileBlack” to take storm.
The controversy started when the 17-year-old Sistahs on the Reading Edge book club, led by author Lisa Renee Johnson, was escorted off of the Napa Valley Wine Train on Saturday for allegedly making too much noise.
According to Johnson, the group was as loud as any others would be on a similar trip and were still told to be quiet by other passengers. “I told the people, ‘well there’s eleven of us, so when we laugh, all at the same time, it’s going to be loud,” she was reported as saying by USA Today. “I don’t think there’s anything we can do about that!’”
One member reported feeling degraded that the group had to walk through six train cars, in front of passengers, to the sight of police as they were mandated to disembark. After a statement from the Wine Train’s Facebook page (which has since been deleted but can be read here) falsely accused the group of physically and verbally assaulting other customers, the book club members took to social media and other news outlets (including the New York Times) to tell their side of the story.
All we were guilty of is #laughingwhileblack— Lisa Renee Johnson (@calisarenee) August 23, 2015
The Wine Train has since offered what appears to many as a half-hearted apology, saying that the situation could have been handled better, but that hasn’t stopped people from reacting to the furor on social media with the hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack. Notable personalities have weighed in with the hashtag, with responses ranging from the incisive to the hilarious. Without further ado, we present 10 of our favorites:
10. Ebro Darden, co-host of the HOT 97 Morning Show:
Did they ask the women to be quiet? #laughingwhileblack and did they have to call the cops? BTW those wine trips are too stuffy anywho!— Blame Ebro el Viejo (@oldmanebro) August 25, 2015
9. Blair L.M. Kelley, author and historian at North Carolina State University:
Honey and I had a #laughingwhileblack incident just this past Saturday. While waiting for a table mall cop had to let us know… :/— Blair LM Kelley (@profblmkelley) August 25, 2015
8. Goldie Taylor, author:
7. Tim Wise, disliked-by-many-but-on-point-here activist:
One thing’s for sure: conservative white guys r never loud when THEY drInk! Except for all those times when they drink #laughingwhileblack— Tim Wise (@timjacobwise) August 25, 2015
6. Donna Auston, anthropologist:
Consequences for being while black can run from simple inconvenience to humiliation to loss of freedom to death. #laughingwhileblack— Donna Auston (@TinyMuslimah) August 24, 2015
5. Suggestion of an article featuring black-owned vineyards to visit instead:
4. Novelist Sofia Quintero:
Let’s ride the subway through gentrified neighborhoods while playing Paul Mooney on a boom box. #laughingwhileblack— Sofia Quintero (@sofiaquintero) August 24, 2015
3. Yelp review included:
2. KayRay, St. Louis-based organizer:
When white folks hatred runs so deep our joy bothers them….. #LaughingWhileBlack occurs— KayRay (@RE_invent_ED) August 24, 2015
1. Malkia A. Cyril, Director of the Center for Media Justice:
Did you see any other noteworthy #LaughingWhileBlack tweets? Let us know in the comments!