Over-punishing Black Women, A World Bank Tradition

A public transit worker is “hurt and embarrassed” after being called out in a viral tweet for eating on a train. Nope, she didn’t get fired. Yah, the power of mass support!

The person who wrote the tweet, was a communications officer at the World Bank Group. Not only did she make the report publicly (you know instead of a dm or email) she also included a photo of the metro worker.

Interestingly, it wasn’t an issue for her employer, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in the District of Columbia, United States of America. WMATA had recently changed the policy on enforcement of rules against eating in the metro:

Email from Metro Transit Police Chief, Ron Pavlik, sent May 8 — just two days before Tynes’ tweet.
Courtesy Barry Hobson

“Understanding this email, our operator clearly was doing no wrong,” the Metro workers union said in a statement.

She “tried this matter in the court of public opinion and the verdict is not going in her favor,” a union spokesperson said.

She lost a book deal with Rare Birds Book, a publishing house: “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 in a tweet. “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.”

She lost her publishers: California Coldblood Books, announced that it was stopping all shipments of her novel from the warehouse and postponing the book’s publication date.

California Coldblood @CalifColdblood

This is modern justice? it must be demanded by the public for our experiences to be validated?

I see no personal accountability…something oh too common at that office. With everyone challenging her self-righteous sense of power and absence of common courtesy, Tynes later deleted the tweet and issued an apology. The public outcry is what made it happen, not her own self-realization. I really think that her privilege led her to believe that she was in the right. She also complained that when she confronted the worker about her “offense”, she responded “worry about yourself”. I can imagine how inflamed that made her.


We are told that we are not grateful enough, we don’t show enough deference and we don’t know our place. It’s interesting how the attitudes I’ve spoken out against have spilled over into the public discourse. We all know what public shaming can do to someone’s career, whether or not you are free of fault. Often, it’s the embarrassment to the organization that leads to the ultimate consequence.

Here, a minor “infraction” was treated callously, and with a disproportionately severe “punishment”. Unfortunately, I’ve gone through this, as well as many of my friends. Ofcourse, it’s a small sample, but many of my female colleagues in international organizations have had similar experiences. When I’ve mentioned these situations to more senior staff, I’m told that it’s just the way things have always been. They are quick to tell me how grateful younger staff should be that things have changed…things used to be worst for women.

When the topic is raised in Town Hall discussions and open forums, the standard line is a vague acknowledgment that the sentiments expressed represent how people feel. It’s viewed as a matter of perception, and any implication that race might be a factor, we are dismissed as being too sensitive. After hearing so many personal stories, I always note how they share similar thoughts about how quickly others are able to identify when there are gender based motivations. Yet so many want to ignore the race based aspects. However, the consensus is clear, it’s built into the culture and trying to change it is an affront to the establishment. I label this “protecting the tradition”

I know too well this kind of pettiness…usually directed to women of color. It’s epidemic.

It was only a matter of time before the rest of the world bear witness too.


Harriot, Michael. “Natasha the Snitch: Black Twitter Savages DC Metro Tattletale.” The Root, May 9, 2019, http://www.theroot.com/natasha-the-snitch-black-twitter-savages-dc-metro-tatt-1834682147. Accessed March 11, 2019.

Nashrulla, Tasneem. “A DC Metro Worker Is “Hurt And Embarrassed” After A Writer Called Her Out In A Viral Tweet For Eating On The Train.” BuzzFeed News, May 13, 2019, http://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tasneemnashrulla/dc-metro-worker-eating-train-viral-tweet-author. Accessed March 14, 2019.

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