An author who lost her book deal after she posted a photo on Twitter of a Metro worker eating on the train is now suing her publishing house for $13 million.
On the morning of May 10, Washington, D.C.-based author Natasha Tynes tweeted a photo of a Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority employee who was eating on the train, something passengers are not allowed to do.
“When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train,” Tynes wrote in her now-deleted tweet. “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.'”
As The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti previously reported, WMATA arrested a teenager last year for “standing on a platform with a bag of chips and a lollipop.”
After Tynes sent her tweet, a backlash ensued. People criticized her for putting someone’s livelihood at risk. Author and activist Roxanne Gay wrote: “We all complain on social media but you… don’t identify the person you’re complaining about, in a photo no less, and try to get them fired. What on earth? For eating on the train?”
Tynes, who is Jordanian-American, was also accused of perpetuating racism, since the WMATA worker in the photograph is black – as if what she did would somehow be okay if the worker were white. Tynes apologized for her tweet and made her Twitter profile private, but the backlash was not over. Rare Bird, which was set to distribute her novel, “They Called Me Wyatt,” announced it was dropping her book:
Rare Bird is aware that an author distributed by us, Natasha Tynes, and published by an imprint that is sub-distributed by us, California Coldblood, 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.
The distributor said it was looking into cancelling Tynes’ book. The sub-distributor then echoed Rare Bird’s statement and announced it was pulling Tynes’ book from publication.
The Washington Post reported that Tynes has now filed a lawsuit against Rare Bird alleging a breach of contract and defamation and demanding $13 million in damages for “extreme emotional distress” and the harm done to her reputation.
Tynes claimed in her lawsuit that Rare Bird defamed her when it accused her of perpetuating racism by “policing” a black woman’s body. Tynes said she did no such thing, “did not engage in any act of racism” and did nothing that put the woman’s safety at risk.
Tynes claimed she was hospitalized after the incident for “an acute anxiety reaction and suicidal ideations,” according to the lawsuit. She received online threats. Goodreads, a book review website, began receiving negative reviews for her book – which hadn’t even been published.
“What Rare Bird has done to Natasha Tynes is just beyond abhorrent,” her attorney, William Moran, told the Post. “I’ve never seen a publisher throw an author under the bus like this before.”