Turns out, Jordanian-American author Natasha Tynes hasn’t played her last hand of “identity politics poker.”
Tynes found herself on the receiving end of race-driven social media backlash after she called out a DC Metro worker eating on the train, resulting in her publisher, Rare Bird Lit., Inc., cancelling her book deal.
This week, the author’s lawyers pushed all in with a $13.4 million lawsuit, claiming the company breached its contract and defamed Tynes.
“The incident left Tynes essentially stripped of a book deal, placed on leave from her job and hospitalized for multiple conditions, including suicidal thoughts, a lawsuit filed this week in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles alleges,” USA Today reported.
Turning the tables somewhat, the lawsuit claims Rare Bird, “an all-white company,” inaccurately painted Tynes, an “immigrant woman of color,” as a racist and benefited off the public backlash.
Rare Bird Books attorney David S. Eisen called Tynes’ lawsuit “baseless” and pledges to fight the litigation, according to the newspaper.
The transit worker was a black woman and Tynes was accused of being a racist for taking to Twitter to report her, even though Tynes is a minority herself — who knew there was a pecking order?
"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.
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) May 11, 2019
The refrain “Eating while black” was commonplace at the time and Fox New’s “The Five” co-host Jesse Watters hit the nail on the head while commenting on the story.
“You can see what hand beats another hand in identity politics poker,” Watters observed. “You have a black female Republican union employee, her hand beats a female Muslim immigrant author.”
Tynes tweeted a photo of the worker and tagged the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
She added: “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 would later delete her tweet after being set upon by a Twitter mob, but Rare Bird announced its intention to back out of its role in Tynes’ upcoming novel, “They Called Me Wyatt.”
Saying Tynes “did something truly horrible,” the publishing company defended black women in a statement.
“Black women face a constant barrage of this kind of inappropriate behavior directed toward them and a constant policing of their bodies,” Rare Bird said.
A word from us on what happened this morning with Natasha Tynes in DC. pic.twitter.com/gJY4lZLFUQ
— Rare Bird (@rarebirdlit) May 11, 2019
Tynes’ attorney alleged that Rare Bird attacked her character, saying she received death threats and was forced to leave the country.
Natasha Tynes was falsely and maliciously accused of being a racist and of threatening the physical safety of a black woman by a publisher who knew better,” Tyne’s attorney, William Moran said in a statement. “Hours before, the publisher was well aware that my client had pleaded with WMATA not to discipline the employee and told her that ‘we’ve got your back.’ Well, my client still has the knife sticking out of her back.
“I have never seen a publisher throw one of their authors under the bus like this and knowingly destroy their lives on false pretenses.”
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