Author accused of shaming black Metro employee for eating on train; book deal halted

Joel Shannon

A publisher says it has postponed a book's publish date and is seeking to officially cancel the project after author Natasha Tynes was accused of shaming a black woman who works for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for eating on the train.

A statement tweeted Saturday by publisher California Coldblood announced the news about Tynes' upcoming novel, "They Called Me Wyatt." The news comes a day after distributor Rare Bird dropped the project and detailed the controversy.

"Natasha Tynes ... 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," the distributor tweeted Friday. "Black women face a constant barrage of this kind of inappropriate behavior directed toward them and a constant policing of their bodies."

California Coldblood's Saturday statement also cited the race of the employee as a reason for its decision: "We do not condone (Tynes') 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."

Tynes' Twitter account was not publicly accessible Saturday. A USA TODAY request for comment via Tynes' email was not immediately returned.

Tynes' Twitter bio says she is an author, social media lead at World Bank and a Jordanian-American.

The tweet and backlash were detailed in a Washington Post report. A screen capture image shows Tynes tweeting a complaint about an employee eating on the train, accompanied by a photo and a mention of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority twitter account.

"I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable," the screen capture says. "When I asked the employee about this, her response was 'worry about yourself.'"

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority says eating is prohibited on Metro vehicles: "Don't eat, drink, smoke or litter on Metro vehicles or in stations. Metro Transit Police issue citations or make arrests to enforce the law."

Many social media users have condemned Tynes' alleged tweet. Some have accused Tynes of racism; others have said the shaming attempt was rude and intrusive.

Tynes has found supporters on social media as well. In tweets and retweets to its more than 80,000 followers, the "Unsuck DC Metro" account has repeatedly dismissed allegations that Tynes' tweet was racist. The account has described the employee as "rude" for eating on the train and pointed out that doing so is against Metro rules.

In a now deleted tweet, the California Coldblood twitter account had previously praised Tynes' upcoming book: "She worked so, so hard on this book, and this is richly deserved praise for a sparkling debut. Congrats, Natasha. You deserve it. :-)"

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Author accused of shaming black Metro employee for eating on train; book deal halted