Book publisher looks to cancel Natasha Tynes’ upcoming novel following Metro tweets

An author may have to seek a new publisher for her upcoming novel after she reported a Washington, D.C. Metro employee on Twitter for eating in a uniform.

“When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train,” Natasha Tynes wrote during her Friday morning commute, according to screenshots shared on Twitter. “I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable. Hope @wmata responds. When I asked the employee about this, her response was ‘worry about yourself.'”

Metrorail Info, an account for D.C. transit agency, promptly responded to her on Twitter, thanking her for helping ensure “all Metro employees are held accountable.”

Tynes, who is also a communications officer at World Bank’s IFC, then responded to the tweet with details about the timing and the route of the train.

But Twitter immediately called her out for publicly shaming a Black working class woman for grabbing a quick bite, with many commenting on the white privilege Tynes had in reporting her and for missing the power dynamics in the situation that allowed her do so:

“I ride the DC metro pretty frequently and I have eaten and drank on the train,” wrote user @JosephCianos. I’ve never been harassed or questioned about it, even though I know it’s ‘wrong’. That’s white priveledge [sic], folks.”

Tynes, who is Jordanian American, did receive support from some people who felt that a Metro employee, who enforces rules on the trains and platforms, should be held accountable:

While Tynes’ status as an immigrant woman itself became a part of the discussion, some also pointed out that there is racism towards Black women from other communities of color:

https://twitter.com/DPMCanty/status/1127246185700446208

Tynes reportedly deleted the tweet and apologized later, but it was too late. “I apologize for a tweet I posted earlier today, which I have since deleted,” she wrote on Twitter, according to WUSA9. “I am truly sorry.” Her tweets weren’t accessible as of Sunday afternoon as her account has since been deleted.

By Friday evening, book publisher Rare Bird announced that it was canceling Tynes’ upcoming novel They Called Me Wyatt within its distribution network, saying that the writer “did something truly horrible.” 

“Black women face a constant barrage of this kind of inappropriate behavior directed toward them and a constant policing of their bodies,” read the statement from Rare Bird. “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.”

Most people lauded the swift action taken by Rare Bird, marking it as an example of how people should be held accountable for their prejudices:

https://twitter.com/CreativeGemDC/status/1127235318325886977

https://twitter.com/AuthorNNBrown/status/1127204742948691968

But not everyone was on board. Some Twitter uses noted that Black teens have been arrested in the past for eating at the station, and that same standard should apply to Metro employees.

But mainly, Rare Bird’s decision got a warm welcome, with many hopping over to its website to buy the publisher’s books or support its authors:

Tynes’ novel was set to be published on June 11 by California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird. The publisher announced on Twitter that it was “halting all shipments from the warehouse and postponing the book’s publication date.” 

It’s not clear how the transit agency is addressing the situation with the employee in question. As many noted in their responses, it’s common to see many eating on the subway, even if it might be against the rules. Metro did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s questions about what steps they are taking.

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Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque