After igniting a scandal all her own, Natasha Tynes’ publisher, Rare Bird Books, decided to no longer distribute her latest book They Called Me Wyatt, which was set to release under one of the publisher’s imprints this year.
What was the scandal all about? Well, on her morning commute, Tynes snapped a picture of a mass transit employee having her breakfast on the train and proceeded to use that photo to call out that employee on social media:
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. When I asked the employee about this, her response was, ‘worry about yourself.’
Tynes has since deleted the tweet, but you can’t erase anything from the internet once it is out there. Screenshots of her tweet are still making the rounds, which isn’t surprising considering she was attacking an African American woman on the DC transit. This was the issue the publisher had its qualms with stating “Black women face a constant barrage of this kind of inappropriate behavior directed toward them.”
Now after publicly shaming this employee, making herself and her publisher look bad, she is suing Rare Bird Books for $13 million. Rare Bird Books’ attorney, David S. Eisen, has responded on behalf of the company, pointing out that “the complaint filed by Natasha Tynes is baseless for a host of reasons.” The publisher is in no way responsible for her actions, nor did they take any part in defaming Tynes. But can you blame the publisher for not wanting to be associated with her?
What’s the worst thing that a potential beau could do on a first date? Well, provided your date doesn’t snatch your wallet or set fire to the restaurant, the answer is nearly unanimous: treat the waitstaff poorly. Everyone knows the most fundamental tenet of common decency that of treating others with respect. No one is entitled to unkindness; certainly, no one has the right to mistreat someone whose job requires them to serve or assist you—that means no shouting at customer service reps, no predatory flirting with disinterested bartenders, no taking it out on a retail employee when you didn’t bring your receipt. Except, of course, for the people who don’t.
Meet Natasha Tynes, social media strategist and snitch.
Picture this: Natasha was riding the red line of the Washington, D.C. Metro when something unthinkable happened. No, nobody was injured. No, nobody was robbed. It was an unthinkable act because most of us never would have considered it out of the ordinary—an MTA employee eating her lunch on the train.
Scandalous? Probably not, even if the posted rules on the train express that eating and drinking are forbidden. But Tynes did seem to feel that it was far less scandalous to snap a picture of the woman’s face and rat her out on Twitter.
Image Via The Daily Beast
(The original photo DID show the woman’s face, but Tynes has deleted her complaint.)
This self-proclaimed “social media expert” apparently wasn’t knowledgeable enough to predict the ensuing social media wrath. Twitter was quick to point out that Tynes was poised to launch her career by writing novels about her experience as a woman of color… experiences which can, apparently, include being ratted out for scarfing down breakfast between assignments. The hypocrisy was unsettling to many, who took the opportunity to articulate that someone’s racial or ethnic minority status cannot except them from anti-blackness.
“People of color” like Natasha Tynes is the reason why I make it a point to directly name Black people within the spectrum, because there is anti-Blackness within people of color in totality.
POC solidarity is often upheld by Black people, but not maintained by others within.
Twitter found it particularly upsetting that Tynes marketed herself as a minority writer and yet would threaten the livelihood of another woman of color.
The Natasha Tynes situation is a reminder that there are plenty of scumbags in minority communities that could give a shit about anyone but themselves. “Own voices” and “diversity” good enough to sell them books, but a hard-working black woman eating on a train is unforgivable?
Racism and the Metro have a long history. In 2000, Ansche Hedgepth was arrested on the D.C. Metro for eating a potato chip despite her spotless record—handcuffed and held in a windowless cell. She was twelve years old.
Some rushed to Tynes’ defense. Many of them then rushed just as quickly to delete their Tweets.
It’s only reasonable that passengers don’t know as much about the rules & regulations regarding D.C.’s transit as its employees. In fact, the employee in question had received an email days before stating that all employees must “cease and desist from issuing criminal citations” for eating and drinking on the trains—”effective immediately.” The Metro Workers’ Union also elaborated on the poor conditions employees face when trying to eat lunch: not all stations have break rooms. Anyone who’s absently watched a rat skitter away as a train barrels down the track knows that, without break rooms, the workers have no guarantee of sanitary conditions in which to eat.
We don’t have to guess at the employee’s circumstances; though she is not allowed to comment herself, the union has publicized the fact that the bus operator ate on the train because of train delays that were preventing her from getting to her next assignment on time. Rather than keep her passengers waiting, which would have caused further delays, she chose to eat on the train. Given the aforementioned official email, the employee will not face repercussions of any sort—but Tynes will.
Rare Bird, Tynes’ publishing house, publicly condemned Tynes’ actions and cancelled the publication of her upcoming novel.
They Called Me Wyatt, Tynes’ novel, may no longer be published—but on Goodreads, its 1.42 star legacy lingers.
“You apologized for the tweet,” wrote one reviewer, “but do you understand that you wanted her disciplined for not catering to your demands? A stranger. You tried to shame her for refusing your entitlement. Some WOC solidarity you got there.”