Passengers kicked off train: Racial or rowdy?

Race Issues
by La Shawn Barber

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2015, at 4:59 pm

A group of black women were kicked off a winery tour train after they’d been warned three times (according to the tour operator) about laughing too loudly? Other passengers complained, and tour staff repeatedly told them to keep it down. One of the women took to Facebook and blamed the reprimand and banishment on skin color and created the hashtag #laughingwhileblack.

According to a spokesman for the tour operator, they deal with loud passengers about once a month. “It wasn’t an issue of bias,” he said. “It was an issue of noise.”

But once these things hit social media, they take on a life of their own. The Napa Valley Wine Train could produce a hundred people of all races and ethnic backgrounds who were told to lower their voices and their laughter, and the “racial bias” hype would rage on. That’s what happens on social media. Once the virtual lynch mob latches on, it doesn’t like to let go until the next big “outrage” comes along.

We’ve all experienced the “too loud” people on planes, trains, movie theaters, etc. But if I’d paid for a relatively expensive wine tour, with the expectation of gazing at the Napa Valley in peace and quiet, I’d be peeved by the noise. The tour operator refunded the women’s money, but, of course, that is not nearly enough. The women are embarrassed and angry. Anyone would have been embarrassed and angry. But was it really a race issue? What else should the tour operator have done if other customers were complaining—ignore them or tell them to deal with it? The tour company posted on Facebook, then deleted, a statement that the group of women became verbally and physically abusive to staff and other customers. Serious accusations, if true.

I’d like to make a confession. I’ve been tempted to allege racial bias. Shockingly human, I know. I didn’t get that job because I’m black. She spoke to me with that tone because I’m black. He’s ignoring my email because I’m black. Every individual on the planet can say something similar. Because I’m a woman. Because I’m overweight. Because I didn’t come from the right family or attend the right school.

It is human nature to seek something or someone else to blame when we fail, at least initially. Perhaps this tendency is part of our survival instinct or a way to avoid cognitive dissonance. It could very well be the case that someone treats me differently because I’m black, but I try to avoid speculating out loud. Instead, I make it a habit to look at myself and what I could have done better. No excuses. Others take a different approach, and that’s their prerogative.

Regardless of what others think of us or what we think of ourselves, we take comfort in knowing God is no respecter of persons. The repentant of both sexes and all races and ethnicities are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Apostle Paul wrote that “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

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