Author Fired for Publicly Shaming Black Transit Worker Suing Her Former Publisher. Should Have Minded Ya Business.
Natasha Tynes, a Jordanian American author, got dragged by the internet for a viral tweet in which she shamed a Black train worker for eating on a train in Washington D.C. back in May. In the tweet, she included a picture of the woman, writing, “When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train. I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable. Hope @wmata responds.”
People instantly came for Tynes, asking why she would risk a potential employee getting fired and accusing her of anti-Blackness. As a result, Tynes lost her book deal with Rare Bird Books. Now, according to Arab American News, she’s suing Rare Bird.
When Rare Bird initially commented after the incident, they stated that the author “did something truly horrible today in tweeting a picture of a metro worker eating her breakfast on the train this morning and drawing attention to her employer. Black women face a constant barrage of this kind of inappropriate behavior directed toward them and a constant policing of their bodies.”
Tynes later apologized, deleted the tweet, and took down her personal website. Tynes has since filed a lawsuit against the publication company, in which she accuses the “all-White company” of breaching its contract and defaming her after she was accused of being “anti-Black.”
Tynes claimed in her lawsuit that the company’s public rebuke of her prompted her to temporarily return to Jordan with her family, because they faced weeks of “online harassment, including death threats and racial slurs.”
Rare Bird released their own statement:
Statement from Rare Bird pic.twitter.com/9skWTGLJPD
— Rare Bird (@rarebirdlit) June 10, 2019
Rare Bird says that only a few hundred copies were scheduled to be printed and the pre-order sales were less than 50, and linked to a scathing early review of the book. For the record, Tynes’ novel, They Called Me Wyatt, was about Jordanian woman that reincarnated as a White boy after being murdered, but kept her consciousness.
There’s no excuse for death threats or racial slurs; that is unacceptable. However, what Tynes did was petty, disrespectful, and dripped with entitlement. I get that if you’ve been called out for eating on the subway you might be salty if someone who works there and enforces that rule is eating on the train. Still that’s something you tweet without a picture, without recording it, and certainly without tagging that person’s place of employment—especially when they aren’t making a mess. You have no idea if that person was in between shifts and didn’t have a break and was trying to grab something quick to eat before clocking in, not to mention that employees are often allowed to do lots of things that the general public is not in their places of employment.
The entitlement around working people is gross, and as someone who worked in retail and food service, even the most progressive of people can turn into a mini despots if their drink is made too slowly. Tynes used her platform to shame someone and now suddenly is concerned with her “all-White” company, when she had no problem dipping into anti-Blackness when it was convenient for her.
(via Arab American News, image: NBC)
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