Some advice for the people who kicked 11 black women off a train for laughing

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.

Photo by Lisa Renee Johnson/Facebook.


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.

These smiling women aren't hurting you! Photo by Lisa Renee Johnson/Facebook.

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.

Two of the women, expressing joy, like human beings do. Photo by Lisa Renee Johnson/Facebook.

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.

Instead of marching the women through the train into their own separate car. Photo by Lisa Renee Johnson/Facebook.

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.


Yeah, please don't. Photo by Lisa Renee Johnson/Facebook.

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.

'Cause, you know. They are. People. Photo by Lisa Renee Johnson/Facebook.

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.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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