A recent incident on the DC Metro has led to an important discussion about race, social media, and karma.
Author and World Bank employee Natasha Tynes was riding the DC Metro when she noticed a uniformed Metro bus driver eating on the train. Passengers are not allowed to eat on the train, so Tynes snapped a photo of the employee and Tweeted it to her employer.
“I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable. Hope @wmata responds." She added, “When I asked the employee about this, her response was 'worry about yourself.'"
Tynes should have taken the Metro employee's advice.
via Natasha Tynes / Twitter
The tweet quickly received a backlash from people accusing Tynes of threatening the woman's job simply for “eating while black." Many saw it as another example of black people being reported to authorities for simply going about their business.
Tynes quickly issued an apology tweet and shut down her Twitter account and then her personal website.
via Natasha Tynes / Twitter
Per union rules, Metro employees are not allowed to speak with the media. So Barry Hobson, the chief of staff for the Metro workers union, issued a statement saying the Metro employee was eating on the train because it was late and she wouldn't have time to have breakfast before having to pick up her passengers.
“Generally, she would have gotten to her next stop and had her breakfast," Hobson said. “But the train was late. So she thought, 'I'm just going to throw my breakfast down now.'"
Hobson also said that the employee was “very embarrassed and wishes [Tynes] had not done this."
Tynes, a self-described “minority writer," was born in Jordan and came to America 14 years ago. After four years of work, she recently completed her first novel, “They Called Me Wyatt," a book about being a woman in the Middle East.
But after the backlash, Rare Birds Books has decided not to release her book.
“Black women face a constant barrage of this kind of inappropriate behavior directed toward them and a constant policing of their bodies," the statement added. “We think this is unacceptable and have no desire to be involved with anyone who thinks it's acceptable to jeopardize a person's safety and employment in this way."
A word from us on what happened this morning with Natasha Tynes in DC. https://t.co/gJY4lZLFUQ— Rare Bird (@Rare Bird) 1557535139.0
The next day, Tynes' publisher, California Coldblood Books, said it was postponing the book's release while they “discuss appropriate next steps to officially cancel the book's publication."
Here's what people said on Twitter:
@rarebirdlit Instant karma. https://t.co/RQlhfQpnnO— Brooklyn Ross, Plague Dr (@Brooklyn Ross, Plague Dr) 1557622516.0
Mike said it best.
@rarebirdlit The moral of the story is to just mind ya business. https://t.co/n0lty1VQfN— Mike (@Mike) 1557538223.0