Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Everything Isn't Always About Race... Cheers?

Everything isn't always about race but when it is, it is.

How do eleven intelligent, professional, joyous and beautiful Black women get thrown off of the Napa Valley Wine Train?  By #LaughingWhileBlack and being intelligent, professional, joyous and beautiful Black women.

photo courtesy of  www.verysmartbrothas.com
We now know the story.  Lisa Renee Johnson, pictured forward right  self-described Chief Sunshineologist and members of Sistahs On The Reading Edge Book Club were ceremoniously ostracized and paraded through six cars while being escorted--forget that--kicked off of the Napa Valley Wine Train.  Initially the charge was for verbally and physically abusing staff and other passengers, according to the Wine Train social media response.  The response has since been removed however Johnson thoughtfully published a screenshot.  Ultimately the charge was loud and disruptive behavior and the refusal to heed staff member's warnings to quiet down.  Hmmm....

What many of us in the public believe is that the ladies, including an eighty-year old Elder were kicked off the train for laughing while black.  Laughing while black is the popular hashtag for which signified the realization that just being Black poses a problem.

Even though several Non-Black passengers sanctioned the book club's account of being "singled out",  some members of society, both Black and Non-Black,  echo the sentiment, everything isn't always about race.

One non-passenger, nor witness commented on Johnson's facebook page: I'm married to a Black woman--he is White--and we're both tired of the excuse of racism... everything isn't always about race... maybe they were being loud and obnoxious... As if his fact being married to a Black woman exonerates him from bigotry or a skewed perspective.

Everything isn't always about race but sometimes it just is.  

This situation could have very well been about noise, disruption and staff following corporate guidelines to remove disruptive passengers.  However the motivation of the staff that removed this group from the train was echoed with the very telling social media response.  The response was riddled with lies to justify the removal.  So I ask if not about race as a mitigating factor, why lie?  If this is the same action for every other passenger and or group, why no account for other passengers laughing, talking and festively engaged being removed?  I suspect because it was about race.

It is for these reasons why people of color don't have the luxury to think one's disparate treatment is not about race.  If we witness you treating people of a different race/ethnicity humanely for similar situations or giving others a "pass" for the same or worst behavior, how do we not attribute your  motivation to handle us disparagingly to race?

One's longing for me to refrain from calling bullshit on racism for fear of being labeled a race-baiter or as an excuse doesn't sway me in the least.  If you want me to stop making issues about my race then you stop making issues about my race.

At this writing Tony Giaccio the CEO of The Wine Train Company released a statement apologizing to the women and took full responsibility for the mishandling of the situation.  Is his apology enough?  It's not enough to stop the message train for sure.  The message train left the station on a nationwide tour calling attention to discrimination. Cheers! I will continue to visit Napa Valley, however The Wine Train is no longer on my list.

This is Toni Staton Harris Checkin' Up and Checkin' In about Race... Yes sometimes it is about race.  


  1. I totally agree....this is all about race. Not only should he apologize but he should fire the staff that asked them to leave. Its one thing to say sorry but actions will do more in this case.

  2. Whhaaat!? That's what I said in my post but you and others INSISTED it be about race!! It seemed some NEEDED it to be about race, unbeknownst to them!!

    1. You missed the point of the post Jeff Stone. The post demonstrates how the incident absolutely about race. Did you read it or just the headline?

  3. Whhaaat!? That's what I said in my post but you and others INSISTED it be about race!! It seemed some NEEDED it to be about race, unbeknownst to them!!