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Sistahs on the Reading Edge Get Real About the Napa Valley Wine Train Incident

Sistahs on the Reading Edge Get Real About the Napa Valley Wine Train Incident

Book club members tell their story in first televised interview.

Published October 6, 2015

The group of Black women humiliated on the Napa Valley wine train for “being too loud” appeared in their first televised interview on The Real on Tuesday.

A few of the women from the Sistahs on the Reading Edge book club sat with the ladies of the daytime talk show to dish on what really happened on the train.

“We are a book club! All we ever want to do is read books and have a good time," one member said. "We go to the Napa Wine Club regularly. It’s an annual trip. We had such high hopes for the wine train because this was our first time ever taking the train."

Recall in mid-August that 11 members of the book club, including one member who was not Black and also an 83-year-old member, were booted off the train after someone complained they were laughing too loudly.

The Napa Valley wine train then accused the ladies of being volatile when asked to leave, releasing a statement that said “there was verbal and physical abuse with other guests and staff.”  However, the ladies say that simply was not the case.

“Many folks took that as fact and truth. What they did was they ran with it and added other things. People commented that we were violent, that we were combative, that we were belligerent, that we were inebriated, that we were drunk, that we were fighting other patrons and staff, so when you see all of that stuff, all of those lies, out there about you, by people who have never met you, saw you, talked to you, who were not even on the train. It was hurtful just to have people you don’t know take that as fact.”

The outrage surrounding the controversy sparked the hashtag #laughingwhileblack and a legion of supporters on Twitter followed.

“Today in our society as Black people, we can’t swim; we can’t work out; we can’t wear hoodies; we can’t ride public transportation, and now, it’s absurd that we’re being asked to not even laugh," said one member. "That’s something that every person should have the right to do. Just to have a good time and be happy. So I think the absurdity of it all just struck a nerve with everybody."

Since the initial event, the Napa Valley Wine Train has apologized to the women for how they were treated aboard the train and the women are suing the company for $11 million, according to court documents.

The eldest member of the group says this wasn’t the first time something like this has happened to her.

“When I was a girl, I went inside the restaurant to get some ice cream. And when I purchased the ice cream and the lady told me you can’t eat this ice cream inside you have to go outside to eat the ice cream, that reminded me of that time,” she shared.

During the interview, the women shared their hopes for what people should take away from the event.

“What we want people to learn is to just be careful of your biases of other people and how you view a group of people when you’re around them. That’s what we want. We want this not to happen again,” book club member Alisa Carr said.

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(Photo: The Real)

Written by George Chapman Jr.

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