Black Reporter Fired For Responding to Derogatory Comments About Her Natural Hair

A couple months ago, the internet was ablaze in congratulations for a Wisconsin TV reporter who addressed negative comments a viewer made about her weight. But black meteorologist Rhonda Lee (pictured above), did the same thing to a viewer who made derogatory comments about her hair, and is now out of a job. Journalisms reports;

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…

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.”

Vascocu replied that Lee was right to be proud of who she is and that he is not a racist, but “. . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . .”

Rhonda Lee is a 25-year veteran of the news industry.

Ladies, what are your thoughts on this?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast.

180 thoughts on “Black Reporter Fired For Responding to Derogatory Comments About Her Natural Hair

  1. Racist? Yes. When he asked, “if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?” He was suggesting she should follow the non-black industry standard. Worse case, she should have only been reprimanded.

  2. In the article it doesn’t specify the reason she was fired. I felt like she was professional in her response. Now if its policy that comments made on the page are to be addressed by someone else or all comments are up for review prior to posting? I get it,if not why can’t she address it? Here’s a better question why didnt whoever’s in charge of the studio page delete derogatory comments? And email the person asking not to have comments that aren’t relevant removed for being abusive or in poor taste? Basically,its a shame her bosses didn’t have her back…no who you play for.

  3. She was fired because her pride couldn’t let go of the fact that someone had said something. When we can’t help ourselves and have to have the last word, that’s when there’s more problems.

    • I’m sorry but I do not completely agree with your comment. Disregarding the fact that everyone is opinionated, I don’t think she was proud or arrogant or cocky. She didn’t have self-pride either; she was more proud of her roots and her heritage and it was her choice to wear her hair in the way she felt comfortable. Her reply to the facebook comment of the naive individual was very professional and I honestly cannot say that I would have been able to be the levelheaded if someone made such a comment about MY hair. The stereotypical stigma that society has instilled in our minds today is very biased. No one should feel ashamed because they’re different or because they decide to embrace their roots and wear an afro rather than spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a weave. Her response had nothing to do with her wanting to have the last word but more about her standing up for what she believed in. It was HER hair and SHE didn’t have a problem with it so why should the young man who left such a negative comment or even YOU have a problem with HER hair? Enlighten me please.

  4. Outrageous! I hope this Ms. Lee takes this company to court and receives everything she deserves. This individual is obviously ignorant and an idiot! Ladies rock your crown…the fros, locs, braids, short cuts, relaxers because it we don’t love our hair no one else will. I honestly believe that God has something better for Ms. Lee.

  5. So here we are again yet defending ourselves to ignorance. Rhonda Lee had every right to state exactly how she felt. She was extremely professional because if it was me I probably would have told him to go straight to hell. Referencing “cancer ” is not funny. It’s rude and disrespectful to BLACK WOMEN!! I’m so tired of us as black women having to set the record straight. Bottom line… We are a force to NOT be messed with. Please remember my Black sistahs We are FABULOUS and every race wants to be us at the end of the day. Rhonda sue your racist company and put their a** on full blast. Stay Black and Proud ladies!!! I digress!

  6. This is so shocking. Why is it that we as black women always have to explain the reason for wearing our hair in it’s natural state. When we wear the long weaves we don’t seem to be so out of place. Ridiculous!!!!

    • So Amber Rose gets all of the ad campaigns and looks oh so sexy, but when a black woman goes bald it’s ugly?? Oh, my bad, Amber Rose is white, right?

  7. I am in shock, I have watched her on TV very good Weather Girl. I don’t see the problem with her response. We need to stand up for ourselves more often in the South because they feel we should take whatever is given to us. Something has to be done Rhonda Lee please don’t take this one quietly. I am only 30 minutes away and have your back. Looking into this matter now. Saddened I didn’t know

    • What happened to this woman is an absolute outrage. As usual, a member of society that has been whitewashed into only believing that Eurocentric standards of beauty are acceptable or even worth value had to stick their ignorant little two cents in. This news woman had EVERY RIGHT to not only respond to this clearly racist comment, but also to rock her naturally beautiful ethnic hair. The only problem with natural hair is the ignorant nincompoops who oppose it, or don’t find it “nice to look at”. And if she somehow broke “company policy” or something like that by responding, some serious changes need to be made at that disgusting news station or she should just find a new station, because this one clearly doesn’t deserve her as an employee.

  8. On one hand I would have recognized his ignorance for what it was and not replied. On the other hand, its that type of racist commentary that needs to be checked. To imply poor ppl wear rags bc they had no choice but once they evolve they did “better” is to equate wearing an afro as a harsh necessity or punishment that at the time had no solution and that once perms & wigs became available, we blks now know “better” as if our natural is LESS THAN…a problem that now has a solution? He needed to be checked! I just dont know if his ignorance was worth her 25-year career. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.
    And his response that there are “standards”? what standards? ohhhh! causcian standards of beauty he means? bc if it been some white woman with soft short curly hair, he likely wouldnt have said anything….Then again, maybe hes one of those superficial as*hole men who think hair IS beauty and can’t stand to see a short cut on any woman? Don’t know but I’d love to ask him if it wouldve mattered had she been white? Either way, hes part of the problem bc he wants to impose HIS superficial standards on everyone to the point where he can’t even see it holds NO RELEVANCE to her worth as a newsreporter! It comes across as a spiteful & racist comment that shouldve been deleted by the tv station’s tech staff.

  9. Yeah, I was ticked off too when I read it on yahoo. There’s a petition you can sign on Facebook so she can get her job back, but if I were her, I’d take it straight to the courts and sue the company for allowing it on the site because it’s clearly slanderous and misaligning her reputable name, and affected her whole lifestyle now and source of income, etc.

    If they were monitoring their message boards like they’re legally responsible to do, she wouldn’t have even have had to defend herself to the likes of that beast and the company would’ve made a good name for THEMSELVES as well. Of course, that’s the right way to do things, and at the end of the day everyone wants to just throw their hands up and say it’s not their problem.

    Whatever anyone says, it just shows you how far we humans still need to change our thinking. Relaxed hair is not the end all. It should not be accepted as a legal beauty product, being that it’s detrimental to the human thought process, unsafe to the human condition and should not be manufactured anymore for said humans. Natural is beautiful.

  10. I am from Shreveport,LA and I enjoyed watching Rhonda Lee.She was very professional in her response.As far as the news stations facebook page (KTBS 3)You would not believe the racist comments that are freely,daily made on any given subject.I’m talking the N word,black folks on welfare,a black unarmed man was killed by police and comments like he got what he deserved ect.This is just one instance that it’s been made public.If someone is responsible for monitoring what is posted,THEY need to be fired,not Rhonda Lee.

  11. People are so ignorant! She deserved a pat on the back for not snapping on such an ignorant comment. She was well spoken and poised the way that she should have been. It’s sad how soooo many people think like this guy. As black women, we are still such a mystery to everybody and they’d rather continue to keep us a mystery than to let go of their ignorant misconceptions and get to know us as a collective community and as individuals, because we’re both…just like everyone else!

  12. I can totally relate to this. I’ve been in media for over 10 years now, right around the same time I went natural. My hair has always been an issue. I’ve had viewers call the station and tell me to comb my hair. When I cut it short again two years ago, another viewer called the station to say that I look like a lesbian. Fortunately, the places I have worked have actually liked my hair. They didn’t come out and defend it, but they simply didn’t respond to the derogotary comments and neither did I. Unfortunately, the station where I work now DOES have an issue with my hair. I’ve been told several times that I need to “do something” about my hair. Thing is, regardless of the various styles I’ve tried, they still tell me it doesn’t look “professional”. Of course, I believe it’s simply their bias against natural hair types and the fact that they’re not used to seeing it on tv. Today they told me they’re going to send me to a hairdresser. Pray for me, y’all.

  13. First and foremost I love this site and it sucks that we still have to deal with these issues in the world we live in today. While im here I would also like to share this video I found online for an easy to do avocado hair mask that has worked for me.

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  14. It’s her hair, let her wear it proudly. I liked her direct statement and How calm she was while typing it. I can sense when someone is offensive or calm when typing their statement. I have seen more than one woman wear their hair short to their neck. Not in my area but it’s all about what works for you. What makes you happy. Nobody’s here to impress others, she was there to do a job and she was happy with herself so she should be able to wear it. What she does with herself is her choice, nobody doesn’t have the right to control somebody’s appereance. I didn’t see anything wrong with it, It was out of her face, She had a smile, She was ready for work and she seems like a nice lady. Her look was professional and it fits her face shape. I thought she was the lady that attacked another woman but I was mislead. I think people should leave what others got alone.

    Let people be happy with what they want. So what if you don’t like it? She likes it. She’s the one that has to get up every morning and hold the comb. She’s not saying anything demeaning about you and what you got. There is enough friction and war in this world, why make more room? There’s no time for that. Do you all day, everyday, anyway. I guess as a professional, your not suppose to respond to viewers. your suppose to ignore them. Like a customer service representative, they are suppose to be calm when handling angry customers. But see this where you need to blame the community for referring to natural hair as,”bad”. they are partially why the negative connotation of “nappy” is used so often.

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