“…black culture allows its members considerably greater freedom to assert and express themselves than does white culture. Black culture values individual regulated self-assertion. It also values spontaneous expression of feeling. As a result, black cultural events typically encourage and even require individuals to behave in an assertive/expressive manner, as in…rapping and signifying…call and response…and…argument.
“White culture values the ability of individuals to rein in their impulses. White cultural events do not allow for individually initiated self-assertion or the spontaneous expression of feeling. Rather, self-assertion occurs as a social entitlement, a prerogative of one’s higher status or…something granted and regulated by an empowered authority.”
Black and White Styles in Conflict. Thomas Kochman. 1981. Pages 29-30.
Greetings fired-up readers!
Trouble in Black paradise clearly impacts all “rainbow” humanity.
A recent Bay Area incident may not be as familiar elsewhere, but publicity only grows. It centers on an outing organized by Blacks who seemed to have blatantly announced what’s essential in the matter: high celebration at their annual excursion.
Anxious for a delightful contrast to usual indoor settings participants merely wished to as we say, “change up the groove,” enjoying their culturally relative interaction—this time blended uniquely with the local freshness outside of closed doors.
An East Bay Black women’s book club was abrasively tossed from the Napa Valley Heritage Wine Train, accused for one of being “too loud.” Rider Lisa Renee Johnson (an author) brought the incident to light.
The Sistahs on The Reading Edge planned this outing, hosting 11 women (10 Blacks and 1 white). Member Sandra Jamerson’s 63rd birthday would be celebrated coupled with a discussion of author Brenda Jackson’s romance novel, A Man’s Promise.
The other participant’s ages ranged from approximately 39 to age 85.
For the staff ejecting the club was apparently not enough. At the next station members said they were marched through 6 separate carriages (as if paraded for sharpened humiliation) instead of exiting where they were. Adding shock to injury several Napa Valley Railroad and St. Helena police officers awaited them.
The women complained of having to wait in the hot sun for buses to cart them away.
Of course the ejected celebrants dispute the staff’s rationale, saying it was definitely racist—targeted because they were “laughing while Black.”
All of the members, wearing matching identity t-shirts, were situated in one car. They say several enthused observers approached their festive party to snap photos, inquire about the novel and share admiration.
It is said a certain white female observer suddenly complained that, “this is not a bar!” an astounding snipe given that the train’s specialty is wine tasting and serving glasses of wine—in a bar like setting. Members also said that other passengers made just as much celebration noise as they did, but were not addressed in the least.
Upon seeing Johnson’s complaint on social media about their treatment, which went viral under the hashtag #laughingwhileblack, the train’s staff retorted smugly with their own version (revealing the second explosive accusation) and it’s the absolute clincher:
“Following verbal and physical abuse toward other guests and staff, it was necessary to get our police involved” (italics added by me).
This obvious retaliation post (quoted in part here) was taken down just before Napa Train CEO Tony Giaccio’s unequivocal statement. Saying in essence his staff was 100% wrong drove home that clincher:
“We accept full responsibility for our failures and the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests.”
Then the clincher’s damning assurance: Giaccio also sent a letter to the club which among other things promised to make sure employees receive “more diversity and sensitivity training.”
So what’s going on here?
Simply stated the ejected club members are correct: the act was racist.
Curiously for the average investigating public a major aspect of this equation does fester here which I’ll visit first: Rupert Murdoch’s media, reporting on this very story, dominates the broader landscape and will not get you to the essential bottom of this.
The fact that these news outlets have long acted as tools to anchor the kind of select privilege demonstrated by staff choices on that train wreaks irony.
Mega wealthy Murdoch proudly trumpets being ultra conservative—pushing in our face the notion that broader reality must be kept strained through those filtering eyes. Case in point: the plethora of attack mannered outlets, popping-up under his auspices not to address wide scale damage from corruption, but to shamelessly comply (distorting and ridiculing “collective” views of disenfranchised human reality).
Ferociously rude and combative hosts have catapulted to new stardom, riding waves steered to crash upon masses of people deprived by that corruption (the working poor, people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, “Mexican” immigrants, religious diversity, etc…).
But let’s not digress here as this media factor’s culpability ultimately (and soon enough) will speak for itself.
The very predictable collision between a Black women’s book club and an entertainment train’s white facilitators absolutely requires a connection of the unbroken timeline of dots. There are no random acts or incidents that bring us to this place in history.
A point brought up by club member Johnson (which I’ll share later) chillingly brings this home—the recent hotbed of racially charged events, finding unarmed Blacks killed by authorities (or dead in their custody) definitely overlaps here.
Included is the source of disastrously run amuck Black on Black crime and murder rising from this same stewing heap.
And another dizzying connect: multitudes in the homosexual spectrum disappearing; vanquished to kidnap and murder—Blacks in this case buried in shame beneath society’s so-called legitimate segments (the other challenged groups who still end up snagged under history’s same obscuring veil).
But Murdock’s media chorus has strange collaborators. Standard Black clergy, too many community advocates and impacted Black families all join in, claiming to not understand the chaos and tragedy—or “know” solutions.
Let me say this: wisdom and example is abundant. Dr. King, Malcolm X, Barbara Jordan, Caesar Chavez, Fannie Lou Hamer, Lorraine Hansberrry, Bayard Rustin, Harry Hay, etc…the very advocates sacrificing in recent times who helped reclaim our lost and stolen history are drowned out by that very chorus.
Solutions are undeniably blatant, but how do they elude concerned folks seen crying out in bewilderment above? Aside from platitudes on holidays even Dr. King’s essential outlines will not be quoted from most pulpits—substantial “blueprints” from a blue ribbon Civil Rights lineup also being sidestepped by today’s social “streamers” of things.
Again, the same standard media and “intellectual pundits” who held history hostage to begin with will not take us to the essential source of the matter—particularly regarding the clashing of cultures (and tossing out of social sensibilities) on Napa’s party vehicle.
But in order to stop a runaway train of destruction here’s the first major step of many: people must stop ignoring the “mechanics” or legacy that steers and increases its momentum. This choice to launch direction should be obvious—following a definite consensus of Dr. King and company regarding this path to resolution that needn’t be drowned out.
Those valiant risk takers knew any novice stumbling upon basic history notes will see the living goals of America’s decision makers. Here lies their barebones script that should be raining down from every pulpit, which clearly shows today’s raging impact from where the pulse begins:
Wealthy governors hammering the birth of independent U.S. legislation drove an edict (intended to be ironclad)—white supremacist policy built to barrel beyond posterity.
Public behavioral rules (or “protocol” in legalese) were drafted by those white governors, enforcing Euro Victorian “upper crust” ideals with iron fists. Determined is what mannerism is tolerable—aiming especially to corral class “outsiders” who tip into (or in their eyes invade) proper social settings.
Professor Thomas Kochman, himself of Caucasian persuasion flatly addresses this in his book Black and White Styles in Conflict, of which the two quotes opening this article above are taken from.
There’s a major reason his work makes the grade in my book Trouble In Black Paradise. I myself state that “…white culture does not study racism or break down its multiple operating components—to do so whites would have to methodically (and for once realistically) “examine” all of the influential consequences that make up racism’s whole”—(page 323).
In the same respect whites do not deem Black cultural dynamics to be “legitimate”—critical enough to study and examine side-by-side with a dominant, condescending (and extremely discriminating) white social system—which Professor Kochman has astoundingly done.
I myself know the ruling machine exploits many birds with one stone wielding two major weapons in this regard: “class” and “race.”
“Class” deems its position as the absolute in benevolence, launching the swagger of upper crust power to impose affluent whims: rein in the manners of defiant poor whites (considered also to be unpolished and uncouth rogues).
“Race” thereby completes the equation: harness all other “outsider” ethnicities (whose manner also greatly contrasts and expands beyond that of stoic, puritan whites).
The white governing few were no fools though. A majority white poor would be bamboozled into doing the dirty deed—actually policing the broad scope of racial outsiders (commandeered to skyrocket upper crust profits). But they must be distracted from their own sense of being wronged by the rich (as poor whites had long been spitting fire about their governor’s antics).
Poor whites were economically displaced by enslaved outsiders—a standard fact. Slaves yielded free labor to governors—infuriating a very hard pressed white working class. Instilling in poor whites the explosively charged notion they had God given benevolent privilege over others (honed with tossed survival scraps) would do the “distraction” trick.
The upper crust desperately did not want poor whites forming allegiances with Blacks.
Intense psychological campaigns relegated Blacks to subhuman status. National propaganda outlets (pioneers of today’s vicious media tools) spew racism. Extreme fear of Black people soars on threats of horrific “uprisings”—particularly logical to whites knowing they dealt out monstrous ill-treatment. Fiery hate avalanched behind unbridled campaigns, stoked to amp physical loathing.
Whites thus lose a key element when viewing Blacks: the associated spark of humanity.
White psyches are neatly boxed into exclusive, “high-minded” cultural vacuums (enhanced by isolation and white flight settlements)—if not voluntarily by threat of both the judiciary and vigilante swords. An outsider’s rich background realities (actually holding prime sustenance resource desperately needed by those poor whites) were flooded in obfuscation.
The 1st Kochman excerpt bares a critical idea here, nailing the upshot of shrewd politic makers: poor whites got the bonafide “authority” to correct and met out punishment to violators of white rules—an all-encompassing license driven into every fiber by that same God given notion.
White working class folks of all ages and persuasions could thereby shower outsiders with barbarous, over-the-top brutality (most egregiously on Blacks) in the blink of an eye, based on all sorts of concocted notions—outright vigilante terrorism finding those same “Justices” summarily looking the other way.
Topping the list for justifying a retaliation slightly above personal insult (and locked in at the ultimate worship level) is none other than today’s heavily exploited rationale: white perceived “fear.”
Those major fear driven campaigns obviously solidified the “us vs. them” dynamic. Fueled with endless legal loopholes courtroom outcomes on this behalf (rejecting justice for Blacks) will have insidious resilience—long after so-called common sense legislation reforms in modern times take place.
Thus majority working class whites get a taste of upper crust power set within the privilege factor (afforded to white culture over “others” as a whole)—even though the upper class still actually excludes and manipulates them.
Fast forward to August 22, 2015 on the Napa Train, well into the 21st century. The complaints of just a few whites upset over a large, annual, festive gathering of Blacks actually rallied the staff to bring a condemnation hammer crashing down on the club. This staff had nailed home a point:
Violating white etiquette gets “you” singled out, marched in a parade of humiliation, ejected and left in the middle of nowhere—where law officers summoned by and representing “us” will handle unruly, violent and dangerous “you!”
Here, train whistle-blower Johnson’s key point (which I now share) is chilling and amplifies that clincher. To paraphrase: the lives of Blacks merely accused of exhibiting danger towards whites historically in America have always been in imminent danger—a point Professor Kochman also makes.
It’s frightening to realize this white staff so casually put those women’s lives at risk. They heightened the “alarm” falsely stating the members dealt verbal and physical abuse towards other guests and staff (making it necessary to get their police involved).
Here stands the essential aspect of why Black Lives Matter brazenly rallies its own drive—bald faced rescue mixing multigenerational and cross-cultural waves galvanized by Black youth.
Roadblocks of revived vision slam against these old policies still barreling along: a machine’s knee-jerk rejection, mischaracterization of intent, denial of unique cultural validity and standard cultural elimination attempts made throughout history—knowing again as stated above that white politic does not study Black cultural reality (hoping to keep it illegitimate and boxed in on white discrimination terms).
Johnson’s concern about heightened alarms peruses a disastrous trail:
The “late” 20th Century: Rodney King beaten mercilessly, while numerous non threatened cops mingle and calmly watch—the culprits acquitted by all white juries (thinking a traffic violation justified an illegal assault over his right to being tried in court).
The 21st Century finds “fear based” deaths charging right along:
22 year old Oscar Grant III subdued and shot in the back by BART officer Johannes Mehserle who claimed he mistook his gun for a taser (2010 involuntary manslaughter conviction and released in 2011); 17 year old Trayvon Martin by vigilante George Zimmerman in Florida, who was acquitted; 18 year old Michael Brown in Ferguson by officer Darren Wilson (exonerated); 28 year old Sandra Bland brutally arrested in Texas by officer Brian Encinia and found mysteriously dead in her cell (ruled a suicide); 43 year old Eric Garner choked to death by officer Daniel Pantaleo on Staten Island (no indictment); 24 year old Jonathan Ferrell killed in N.C., shot 10 times by officer Randall Kerrick while his colleagues refrained (acquitted)…
One Bay Area Black led group, The Healing Circle, organizes overall supportive resource for those “left behind”—the grieving families of homicide victims (mostly Black-on-Black and “insider” crimes still unsolved). Members keep to the streets, loved one’s photos in hand, pressing authorities for results—citing inequities in urban crime solving compared to more affluent communities.
A local Newark, CA. Latina transgender murder case did go to trial with convictions: 17 year old Gwen “Eddie” Araujo was beaten and strangled to death on October 4th, 2002 by Jason Cazares 22, Michael Magidson 22, Jose Merel 22 and Jaron Nabors 19 after they discovered Araujo (who had sex with two of the accused) was a male in transition. Turning on each other two received voluntary manslaughter (getting 6 and 11 year terms) and two got second-degree murder (15 years to life). “Trans panic” defense (an extension of “gay panic”) did get employed—hate crime enhancement was rejected.
Innumerable transgender homicides remain unsolved.
Legal loopholes charge along intact with insidious resilience (denying ultimate justice for the underdog) long after so-called “reforms” in modern times.
So back to Napa, where serious questions scream here: why are there no signs warning about excessive noise on that train? Why weren’t those offended passengers offered relocation to other cars? And (rhetorically) why do standard whites not offer diversity training at home—instead of attempting to reverse their solidly intact preprogramming as adults on jobs?
Grad nursing student Norma Ruiz posted on the train’s site, believing her Latin group suffered the same discrimination. Witnesses to book club member’s humiliation also posted their outrage there, shocked that this still happens in modern times.
My experience says—similar to Blacks and Latin folk—numerous “non puritan” cultures geared in celebration mode (whites included) have boisterous sound and manner rippling naturally in the fabric of their expression.
A glaring example:
When visiting a highly popular Japanese Bistro in San Francisco one area situated for large gatherings is always packed—mostly by Asian groups. They are always loud. Observing them anyone can see that their language inflections work collectively in the physical mechanics of socializing. Rollicking gestures accentuate lively points in festive discussion that rises in waves.
No one bats an eye, whites included, but white Victorian sensibilities would be desperately offended. How ironic to find Anglo stereotypes casting Asians as humble—stoically sedate even.
I can easily distinguish naturally boisterous social festivity (given a stated intent of high celebration) from over-the-top vulgar screams and self-absorbed rowdiness—hurled by intentionally rude partygoers.
Why can’t that train’s staff members?
By the way: the Sistahs have filed an $11 million discrimination lawsuit.
Awarded or not, I’ll not hold my breath hoping for that staff—and all of their over bloated online commentary supporters—to have learned a thing.
The power (and the illusion) of privilege is a dastardly intoxicant indeed!