HKR: Laughing While Black, Policing Black Bodies & Criminalizing Black Expression

Napa womenOakland, Ca 08-24-15 Today we speak with Lisa Rene Johnson and some of the other women who were unceremoniously kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train over the weekend for the crime of ‘laughing too loud’. For those who are unaware, Johnson and number of women including several elders are a part of a book club that’s been around for 17 years. Each year the group plans an outing to Napa. This year they decided to take the Wine Train. There were 11 in their party.

According to Johnson, almost immediately they could sense uneasiness the main host who seated them in such away that the group was separated and thus would have to talk louder then most for all to be heard during their conversation. The people immediately next to them had no problem with their jovial demeanor and conversation. Nor did other passengers who noted they were wearing the same shirts highlighting their book club and came over to spark up conversations about the books they had read.

This is 85 year old women lived through Jim Crow was among those forced off the Napa Wine train
This is 85 year old women lived through Jim Crow was among those forced off the Napa Wine train

However, there was one woman wearing a blue dress who didn’t like the group and felt they were laughing too loud.. She never spoke to the group except after they toasted with a passenger asking about the book club. It was at that point the women in the blue dress stormed over and told them ‘this is not bar’.. The women disagreed. That woman then went and complained to the main host. The police were called with the host falsely accusing the women of being verbally and physically abusive to passengers.  That was a blatant lie. It was so much of a lie that the initial report posted on the Napa Valley Wine Train cite was removed and the CEO was on the local news saying that he will be apologizing to the group.

The women were removed from the train and made to wait in the hot sun for alternative means of transportation.  According to the women, the police and other staffers were shocked at their treatment.

A local journalist named Zennie Abraham posted a video showing how white passengers who have been on the Napa Valley Wine Train have been able to party, get loud and display far more transgressive then anything these 11 women did, without incident.. You can access that video here.

Krea Gomez and Duane Deterville
Krea Gomez and Duane Deterville

Later in the show we speak with long time activist and educator Krea Gomez and Duane Deterville about the ongoing policing of black bodies and criminalization of Black expression . Both guest weigh in on the Napa Valley Wine Train situation.

Krea also brings to light a recent incident where a group of white neighbors who just moved into a predominantly Black neighborhood undergoing gentrification. They banded together and targeted a Black Family who has lived there for 32 years. They wrote an open letter to the family accusing them of bringing  a ‘bad element to the neighborhood.. The open letter was picked up by local media and praised for shaming this family.  Krea and other Black neighbors have been appalled and have pushed back. Krea penned a powerful open letter giving history and context…

Download HKR-08-24-15 Policing Black Bodies-in Napa and Oakland

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