Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Meteorologist fired over natural hair comment

A black female meteorologist has been fired from the ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La., she told Journal-isms, because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station's Facebook page. KTBS-TV's action against Rhonda Lee followed a previous response by Lee to a viewer who questioned whether she should wear her short Afro, suggesting she put on a wig or grow more hair. Rhonda Lee Lee messaged Journal-isms on Saturday, "I had a meeting with my ND [news director] and GM [general manager] Friday trying to get my job back. They told me the policy I violated isn't written down, but was mentioned in a newsroom meeting about a month-and-a-half prior. A meeting I didn't attend. So when I asked what rule did I break there isn't anything to point to.

 "The week I was brought in to discuss [the] last post, I was told by my ND that there were a few unclear things in the policy and that we were going to have a meeting with George Sirven, the GM about it. I was instead fired the next week — no discussion had. Sirven claims that even if a policy isn't on paper we as employees are responsible for abiding by them. There isn't anything in our employee manual talking about social media dos and don'ts. I was accountable for a rule that essentially isn't in existence." Sirven told Journal-isms by email, "We do not comment on personnel issues out of respect for the employee and the station." Lee provided Journal-isms with copies of the relevant Facebook postings to the station's website.

 On Oct. 1, a viewer identified as Emmitt Vascocu wrote, "the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that (cq)." Lee replied the same day,

"Hello Emmitt--I am the 'black lady' to which you are referring. I'm sorry you don't like my ethnic hair. And no I don't have cancer. I'm a non-smoking, 5'3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I'm in perfectly healthy physical condition. "I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn't grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don't find it necessary. I'm very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn't a reason to not achieve their goals. "Conforming to one standard isn't what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that. "Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching."

To read the full story, go to Fired over Facebook Posting.
Article & Images Source: Maynard Institute


  1. Seriously, there was nothing wrong with Meteorologist Lee's comment. Now we fire people for publicly standing up for themselves?! She was not disrespectful -- in fact she was informative and polite. Silence would have been a far worse response. I need her to sue the station for the rest of her contract.
    Ms. Lee I am glad you no longer work for a corporation that lies about policies addressed in meetings you were not present in. If the policy was important why did the company fail to get the word out to all employees??? Shameful!

  2. WoW!!!! Not only was she professional in her response, she was polite and sincere. It seems the station was just waiting for any flimsy reason to let her go, I hope she sues!

  3. Disgusted by this station for firing her!!

  4. It seems as though the network was looking for an excuse to fire her.

  5. That's a darn shame; shame on ABC news affiliate; shame on them. Ms. Lee was very articulate and polite about expressing her ethnicity. May God open a window to better things

  6. When I read Ms. Lee's comment I smiled because she politely stood up for herself. She is proud of who she is. I also don't think that the company hired her in the first place because of her looks. Some of us are too narrow-minded and need to look beyond physical appearances.


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