Debut novelist faces backlash for post about DC Metro worker eating on train

A Washington, D.C., author’s book deal is in jeopardy after she criticized a black Metro employee for eating on the train and reported her to transit officials, drawing backlash on social media, The Washington Post reported.

Natasha Tynes, a Jordanian American writer and World Bank employee, on Friday tweeted a photo of the Metro employee. The woman was in uniform and eating on the Red Line.


"When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train," Tynes wrote on Twitter. "I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable. Hope @wmata responds."

Transit officials thanked her "for catching this and helping us make sure all Metro employees are held accountable" and asked her for more information, which Tynes gave.

People are barred from eating and drinking on Metro buses or trains and in stations but frequently violate that rule.

Twitter users swiftly criticized Tynes for publicly shaming the woman and trying to get her in trouble.

Tynes later apologized, saying she was "truly sorry," and deleted the tweet. She also set her Twitter account to private.

Tynes later deleted her Twitter account altogether.

Barry Hobson, the chief of staff for the Metro workers union, told the Post in a statement that the Metro employee was taking her meal break while in transit from one assignment to another, that the case is still under investigation and that the union "will not support any discipline."

Rare Birds Books, which was set to distribute Tynes’s upcoming novel, "They Called Me Wyatt," said after her tweets it had decided not to do so, according to the Post.

The publishing house said in a statement Friday that it had learned 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."

"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," it added.

The company pressed Tynes’s publisher, California Coldblood, to also end business with her.

"We do not condone her actions and hope Natasha learns from this experience that black women feel the effects of systematic racism the most and that we have to be allies, not oppressors," California Coldblood said in a statement Friday.

The publisher later announced it will postpone the book’s publication date "while we further discuss appropriate next steps to officially cancel" it.

The Congressional Black Caucus praised Rare Birds for taking action on Tynes’ book.

“Accountability is necessary. Thank you for taking proper action,” the group tweeted Saturday.

“Black women have enough to worry about on a daily basis. @NatashaTynes’ actions were malicious and simply unnecessary. She needs to find a hobby & do better next time.”

Updated Monday at 8:20 a.m.