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.
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.
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.”
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:
Instant karma. pic.twitter.com/RQlhfQpnnO
— Brooklyn Ross, Plague Dr (@wordsasplateaus) May 12, 2019
Natasha Tynes this morning. pic.twitter.com/UEqMBy5HG5
— Kim Wexler’s Ponytail (@MadisonKittay) May 11, 2019
We as Black Women are put through enough obstacles on a daily basis. A woman eating because she provably didn’t have time to eat before leaving for work resonates with many of us.
I just love Black Twitter. They will save us in 2019… pic.twitter.com/taTM0ePJ3J
— Pennywise The Diva of House Stark ?? (@AuthorNNBrown) May 11, 2019
Just got caught up on the Natasha Tynes situation. I am amused that people are worried about her career, but not the blue collar worker she aimed to take down.
— Angel The Ol’ Bougie Black Bih (@cosign4sarcasm) May 11, 2019
I am in residence, so not on Twitter as I often as I usually am. Just learned what Natasha Tynes -who is Jordanian-American- did. Anti-Black racism is shamefully all too common among non-Black people of colour. I would add classism to the list of bigotries that we must fight too.
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) May 11, 2019
And it’s worth noting the issue wasn’t the food! It was this Black Woman’s refusal to bend to the demands of @NatashaTynes that brought on this post & subsequent complaint with the train company.
— LeslieMac ?? (@LeslieMac) May 10, 2019
Again, @NatashaTynes, you went over, above, beyond and out of your way to cause trouble for a black woman who was not bothering you.
I want you to think about that.
I am going to remind you every day just to make sure.
— Auntieana (@thejournalista) May 10, 2019
Natasha Tynes really lost her book deal snitching about someone else’s breakfast burrito.
— Tanisha Long (@Tanishaevonne) May 11, 2019
So I keep seeing #eatingwhileblack – I agree that the employee shouldn’t have been outed like that but how did this turn racial? Maybe….maybe….not everything is racially motivated.
— KarlitoBandito (@KarlitoBandito) May 12, 2019
The woman shouldn’t have called out the worker as she did. It was petty and childish. One MAY question if she would have done the same had the worker been white, but I don’t see how her post is in any way targeting the worker because of her skin color. Wrong? Yes. Racial? Nah.
— Cary McKnight (@cary_mcknight) May 15, 2019
@NatashaTynes Entitled? Yep. Racist..who knows probably not. She probably thought it would be a good Twitter post. She was wrong. #eatingwhileblack
— Kennie M (@KennieM89) May 13, 2019
Reading this now over a rare breakfast at home!
— Edie Spencer (@EdieS) May 11, 2019
Mike said it best.
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