Some advice for the people who kicked 11 black women off a train for laughing
Here are five tips.
The Napa Valley Wine Train is catching heat for kicking a group of middle-aged black women off their trip for, allegedly, laughing too loud.
The women were greeted by police officers, who escorted them onto a bus, which took them back to their cars.
Even though the train company claims the women were being "severely disruptive," the women have countered via Facebook that their removal was racially motivated, and they started the hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack.
Look: Loud laughter can certainly be irritating. Especially if you're not in on the joke. There's no denying that.
That said, by calling the cops and throwing the women off the train, it seems likely that the train staff and other guests may have ... overreacted. Just a teensy bit.
And, perhaps, could use some practical advice for the future.
With that in mind, here are five things you can do if you are annoyed by a group of middle-aged black women laughing really loud on a wine train.
1. Suck it up.
There are many venues where being quiet is the appropriate and respectful thing to do, such as a cemetery, or a hospital, or the office of the governor. But you're not any of those places. You're on a wine train. People are there to drink wine and have fun. So suck it up.
2. Realize that everyone enjoys themselves differently.
As a deleted scene from the movie "Sideways" probably insists, there is no one right way to enjoy a three-hour scenic wine train tour. Some people like to stare silently out the window and pretend they're at church. Some people like to laugh and talk and drink. Both are perfectly acceptable activities!
Studies have shown that black girls and women are frequently stereotyped as obnoxious and loud — which itself is just one of a host of bizarre subconscious biases that people have been found to have. Others include: Black people feel less pain than white people and black boys are "older and less innocent" than their white peers.
Unconscious bias runs deep. It's important to take a step back and wonder if a group of people who seem "obnoxious and loud" to you at first might actually just be "people reasonably enjoying themselves."
3. Complain later to your friends and family in private.
This is key. When you get home, go straight to your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/BFF/dog and complain about the really loud, annoying women on the train today. "Yes, Jeanine, you're totally right," they will say. "I'm sure those women were super irritating and you're right to be annoyed." Not only will you feel validated, but best of all, you won't be responsible for getting 11 middle-aged black women, at least one of whom survived Jim Crow, kicked off a wine train.
4. Try not to get the cops involved.
In the event that the group of middle-aged black women has, in fact, become so disruptive that it is necessary to remove them from the train — perhaps they won't stop singing Journey's "Separate Ways" at the top of their lungs — is it really necessary to call the cops?
The train company charges that the women were removed for the "safety of all of our guests," but as far as I can tell, "laughing really loud" does not constitute a security threat.
Research suggests that even when they commit borderline crimes or commit crimes in the same proportion as white people, black people are more likely to receive criminal treatment. And unless we've entered a young-adult-novel dystopia sometime in the last week, laughing heartily isn't a crime. Not even a little bit.
So don't call the cops.
5. Most of all, just treat people like people.
People can be annoying. That's a fact of life. But even when they're annoying, people are people. It's important to treat them that way, and not as potential problems to be dealt with.
We all have to get along in this world. Some of us do life differently than others. We're all human. Let's try to respect that.