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

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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

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Lala

There is already a petition for Ms. Lee on change.org. I just signed it. Before commenting I did have a look at all Facebook pages in question. Mr. Vascuco claims to have brain damage which is why the station probably passed what he said and paid no mind to it. I do believe that firing her was wrong. So what that he did not like her hair. Find another station. As far as the station is concerned they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing the comments to stay and should have backed her 100%.

Eme
You know what I find so funny. I am thinking about all the people who are always on this site, talking about how their white friends/co-workers/associates just luuuuurvvve their hair. This incident just goes to show you the extent and nature of white peoples’ “love” for our hair. They love it like a giraffe in Times Square, interesting to look at, but still an oddity. How you could co-exist with a race of individuals for hundreds of years and still consider an aspect of their appearance to be alien and strange is beyond me. It stinks of privilege, and I… Read more »
Yayer

In fairness to those people, they may not work in environments or industries like Miss Lee’s so it’s not right to project your anger at this situation onto people who face a different reality.

eme
Didn’t say I was angry. Said I was tired. Allow me to elaborate. A lot of naturals come on this site, claiming frustration at people other Black people in their community for giving them a hard time about being natural. They are also quick to note that they receive the most encouragement and support from their white peers. So tell me, what environment is it ok for us to wear our hair in it’s God-given state? My problem is the white supremacy thinking that they can “allow” us to wear our hair naturally in certain contexts. Working behind the scenes?… Read more »
au napptural
Thank you eme! I get tired of black ppl praising white acceptance of our hair like black ppl are the only ones giving naturals static. (And you know how natural hate statc electricity. lol) Anyhow, who do you think is instituting no loc policies in the military? Who fires naturals in the coporate workplace? Who is behind Six Flags “hair code”? Not blacks. Stop acting like white ppl are creating some hair utopia. I’m not excusing black people’s sometimes backwards toward our hair, but who satrted out maligning blackness? Who made our hair, skin, body types, etc, the negative in… Read more »
Lessy J
I’m a South African and 2 actually hear that this is still happening in America is such a disappointment 2 me! I also wear my hair natural, and that guy’s comment was way personal, bt the lady kept her cool nevertheless, what wud u have done, if some idiot said that 2u? I wud’ve cursed the hell out of him, bt not this lady and every1 who thinks ths wasn’t a racial remark, answer this for me, has african hair ever grew long? Or it grows up like she said? It is a racial remark! And as 4 saying “the… Read more »
Paiya

I am so tired of the Hair issue for Blackwomen. I am glad that the reporter is proud of who she is and comfortable how she wears her hair. I think that she responded in a professional manner.

SolutionsLady

I cannot believe she was fired over her response. She responded beautifully to the negative comments. I felt empowered about my own nappy roots after reading her response, what is there to get fired over? I wonder what was the station’s reasoning in letting her go? They really made a rash decision in firing her. There was absolutely nothing that was inappropriate in her statement.
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SolutionsLady

Totally thought I was adding a profile picture, not a huge photo in the comment section. LOL, is there any way to delete this and repost without it.

MissJoeyK

This is upsetting. Theses are the stories that need to be magnified as it is an injustice and further proves that we as a people must contend with ongoing oppression in every way imaginable because we don’t look like everyone else. I’d be very interested in having a conversation with the board of individuals who made this regrettable decision to let Rhonda Lee go.

Cheryl

She is beautiful and so is her hair! Totally do not understand her being fired. Being a woman who wears her hair natural as well, this really bothers me. I think she handled her response extremely well! I’m sure she took a step back and gathered her thoughts before even responding to such ignorance in the professional manner that she did.

Barbara

They were looking for a reason to fire this beautiful and professional woman GTFO. She did absolutely nothing wrong here whatsoever.

Andria

Where is a star to defend her? We as black women need to rally behind her. Oprah should hire her to serve as a catalyst for change.. very sad. She is beautiful.

sonia

I think the most constructive thing would be to post a follow-up with where a signed petition/ letters can be sent to her manager. Please post the address. Perhaps something could be started on change.org and linked to here.

Jojo

*unmatted*

Jojo
I disagree with most of the posters. I’m a 40 yr old natural woman who work in corporate America. For most of my career , I was loc’d, in fact 10 years, lose natural for 5 mostly ’twas. I was natural before it was common to see natural hair women strutting with pride. As a result, my hair and styles over the years have been the topic of many water cooler conversations. One thing I’ve come to realize is non blacks haveno lue how our hair works. They don’t realize that even though we look like we have two inches… Read more »
Pleshette's sister
JoJo, while I can see where you are coming from, the question remains why would her statement seem angry when she politely gave the man her point of view? Do we as black women have to cower and lower our eyes when we speak or express ourselves? I believe we have the right to say what we mean as much as the next person. As for it not being racial, the viewer made it racial with the mere mention of “the black lady”. Why did he not say,”the weather lady” or something like that? Is he is considered an “angry”… Read more »
Jojo
He describing her as the black woman in itself is not racist, at least not to me. It’s descriptive. Everyone has the right to express themselves anytime but not on your company’s FB page. And if you choose to, you have to make sure your responses are in line with image the company is trying to portray and is politically correct. Sorry to say but she’s one of the faces of her company and not everyone’ like TWAs. We ourselves talk abt this daily on these forums. Just because hes white and shes black, if he says he doesnt like… Read more »
Dantie
“We black women” didn’t make this about race, the poster did, when he made sure to make it known that the person he was talking about, with the too short hair, was “that black lady.” Far from just being descriptive, the commenter was careful to distinguish who he was talking about by their race, and not, for instance, by Ms. Lee’s job title–as a weather reporter. I noted in another post that there is another reporter for this station who is white and has short hair. (Erin Buchanan http://www.ktbs.com/-/144944/6279736/-/1332obn/-/index.html) But the commenter did not talk about how her hair was… Read more »
Jojo
His last response was after her racial rant. If you choose to be in the public eye, you have to be more tolerable. The bottom line is he’s a viewer (customer) and she’s an employee. Its not her place to educate people about the origins and reasons for hairstyles. If dude didn’t like her hair so what. Again, even some people’s mothers don’t like their TWSs. What’s the big deal if a viewer said he doesn’t think short hair is appropriate for tv. Again, I think his comments were foolish and insensitive. If you want to say passive aggressive, I… Read more »
Jojo

*twa

eve-audrey
i understand that you’re trying to say that she went a bit far in her response but i really think she was just trying to educate him on why she wears her hair like that (specially because he was wondering if her hair was like that because she had cancer). when reading her respone i did not feel like she was the one who was making it a racial issue. he referred to her in his first post as “that black lady” she just quoted him by saying “hi i’m that black lady you’re talking about” i really don’t see… Read more »
Jojo
Perception is reality in all cases. I perceived her tone and comments as being racially charged, you don’t. She perceived his comments as racist, he said he wasn’t. Bottom line is I, as in the letter after h, as in me, feel she overreacted. No one else has to feel the same. If she was my sister or best friend, i would tell her the same. People keep saying she was educating him. He never said he doesnt understand why black women wear their hair short at times. He just said he feels hers isnt appropriate for the job. She… Read more »
Anne

Did you read his response to her? You don’t think that was racist. He went on about standards and compared her not meeting his eurocentric standards to a poor person wearing rags.

Here is his reply to her comment:
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?. . .”

Denise
Her response could not have been more appropriate or on point. I love when black women handle themselves with intelligence, class, poise, and dignity. Bravo to her for the example she has set. Now, she needs to get herself a very good attorney and sue that t.v. Station for every dime she deserves. And, black people in the viewing area need to boycott the station. Tis will send A very strong message that intolerance such as this is not acceptable in America. Let her be white, gay, or something else that is suppose to be “socially acceptable”… She’d be able… Read more »
Nicole

I think a PETITION should be started. That is pure ignorance on both ABC’s and the commenter’s part. Anyone agree? I want her to get her job back or an apology from ABC

Antz

For the record, Emmitt Vascocu does have a FB page…juss sayin’ in case someone may want to send him a hello!

Ihuoma

His empty brain isn’t worth acknowledging!

lulu

lame what about when the white female newscaster responded to a guy that commented about her weight ON AIR…she didn’t get fired, heck she was praised for it all over the internet…

Dene Bonner
This is quite rediculous, why should the words that Ms. Rhonda Lee get her fired? Why did the lady that responded about her weight not get fired for exercising her right to respond? We are being more expressionist about our etnicity and I believe that is a good thing. As a nurse nobody can tell me that some of the things that are happening to our scalps, early male pattern baldness and other skin diseases are not the direct cause of chemically relaxing our hair to the state that God did not make it. I wlll never watch your station… Read more »
Hmm

If she is 37, how is she a 25-year veteran of the broadcasting industry?

Keedy

I was think the same? So she has been in the broadcasting industry since the age of 12?! Maybe it’s a mistake.

Lisa

Her response was BEAUTIFUL!!

binks

This is bullsh*t…sorry but this! Sso this lady couldn’t defend her natural hair in an intelligent way but earlier this year an overweight white newscaster can defend herself on camera at her job concerning her weight with a semi rant and buckets of tears and ger praise and kudos…wtf? What a double standard so only certain women are allowed to defend their image? Smh…I hope she sues the pants off their behinds they were itching to fire her but came up with a BS reason to do so.

Keshia

Well her response was genius and she looks fab!! She will find a far better job opportunity.. Keep your head sista

Gina

Here is their e-mail if anyone wants to write the company and petition for her to get her job back.

pressreleases@ktbs.com

Christina

This is sickening. How dare they fire her. She did nothing wrong.

Tads

Oh my goodness! Are you joking right now? I was expecting to read a really rude and unprofessional response from her to this Vascocu character. SHe was nothing but polite and professional in her response. Surely there is a wrongful dismissal claim in this. And is this person really equating the being black to something as negative and unfortunate as being poor? I.AM.SEETHING!!

JustLeavingaComment

F-em’, F-em’ all! I don’t know why all of ya’ll are acting so surprised. We should know how they get down. They will ride and die for their system of so-called white supremacy. Maybe incidents like this will wake some sisters up and realize they’re so-called white friends and co-workers don’t really give a crap about them. They just want you to CONFORM, dishonor black men, and otherwise STFU. Where were here office friends to petition for her in her time of need?? — Yeah, that’s what I thought…no where to be found.

JustLeavingaComment

Also, just wanted to add…37 years old?!? WOW, I never would have guessed. She is gorgeous and quite youthful-looking. They’re probably just jealous that she doesn’t even need hair to be so strikingly beautiful. I’m glad she spoke-up regardless of boss-man cracking the whip for her doing so. I’ll be so glad when we don’t have to work for these folks anymore. It’s getting old.

anonymous
I remember when Ms. Lee did the original piece a while back. I remember wondering why she’s exploiting us [yes US] like that. I get tired of seeing us on TV for ratings. The commenter was correct in that we don’t set the standards [of beauty and what is acceptable for TV] but his logic is flawed. People are discriminated against every day for economic reasons but it’s against the law to discriminate on the basis of race. Having said that, we did this and now slowly but surely we can undo this but it won’t be easy. It’s time… Read more »
Keedy

Please don’t take this the wrong way, I am genuinely curious about your response. But could you please elaborate on what you mean about Ms. Lee “exploiting us”? On the “original piece” that you stated she did a while back, was this subject or something similar talked about? Also, your comment about “we did this and now slowly but surely we can undo this…” Again, not being negative or rude in any way, just would like more understanding of what you mean. (I think I get what you are saying, but I may just be scratching the surface.)

Priscilla

wow, this is horrible. what can be done about it? can we petition the news station?

Jasmine Rose
As a broadcast journalist graduate, I find this to no surprise. This is how the new media industry is period. Your appearance and image dictates your the station’s ratings, as they believe. In some instances, sadly, this is true as we see here. You already have a viewer that is pretty irritated at the fact that a reporter is not conforming to society’s standards. The News industry and especially broadcast news is a cut-throat competitive field. It’s hard to be yourself and at the same time give the viewers and the station the image that they want. It’s not about… Read more »
ella

she was actually polite and straight to the point. if this is how it happened, i think laying her off her job is extreme.

Tia

ok…when I first started reading the article, I thought the reporter’s response would be an unprofessional one. t turns out she gave a very balanced and graceful response.

That being said, I think that people in the public eye should not let comments on social networks bait them. They need to accept that not everyone likes everything they do. But then again, these celebs are also human so I can’t really fault her. Maybe that reporter’s employer felt like her response was too “political”…mmmh I wish continued success to that (beautiful) reporter.

casnadra
I whole heartly agree with you. If you work with or in the public eye every one is not going to like you.(clothes, accessories, hair, glasses etc.) Being from Atlanta Monica Kaufman on WSB caught flack about her hair all the time from not just whites but blacks as well. More than likely, her contract did state she could not respond on social networks about work related things. Ms. Kaufman went on to anchor for almost 30 years and was one of the best in the business. I would have never granted him a response. She could have chose not… Read more »
Alexandrea J

This is UNACCEPTABLE and needs to be brought some attention! Here a woman can talk directly to her bully about her weight but this woman is not allowed to talk to her bully about her hair which TRULY cannot CHANGE! What in the world? I mean seriously, this is NOT ok. We need to bring attention to this because this woman deserves an apology from her job AND from that person!!

j
I don’t think his comment warranted a race card call. I think the guy was commenting on the length of her hair and not necessarily her texture or the type of hair she’s wearing. She was quick to pull that race card and yes we are discriminated against most of the time. But this time…. that was not case. There’s enough real racism in the world without having to make it up where it doesn’t exist… Also, that really sucks that she was fired for that. I definitely don’t think she should have been fired for a counter comment unless… Read more »
KK

I also agree with J. I did not like the response either. “I am the ‘black lady’ you were referring to” and “I am sorry you dont like my ethnic hair” and all that followed was excessive and not professional to the true meaning of the word. It was way too defensive for someone stating a simple point of view and opinion.

Dantie
1. (@KK) Race is not a card. Rhonda Lee is black, and her race was at issue as soon as the writer failed to call her by her given name and instead referred to her as “that black lady.” I’m not sure why it would be “excessive” for her to quote what HE said in responding to him. 2. There is no question that Ms. Lee’s race was at least part of the motivation for this writer’s criticisms. It’s notable that KTBS’reporter Erin Buchanan (http://www.ktbs.com/-/144944/6279736/-/1332obn/-/index.html) who is white, also has very short hair. But the writer did not call for… Read more »
Anne

Thank you!

Rine

I’m gonna have to go with j on this one. The guy clearly was commenting more so on the length of her hair yet she came back with all this defense of her texture, culture, african-american roots, and whatnot. It sounded nice but it was not the time to respond with that particular content because anyone can have the appearance of short hair.

However, the station firing her was an outrageous move. Like Dana said about them giving directions to a KKK rally…yeah, they’re nuts.

Penelope

@j
Yeah I agree. I didn’t think his comment was so much about race, as it was about him being ignorant and thinking women have to have long hair and only men can have short hair.
So I think her comment should have addressed sexism, not racism, but I can’t believe she got fired over that…So ridiculous.

Lennette

I don’t think she pulled the race card…she simply stated the difference between wearing natural hair and when we as women relax our hair to look a certain way. I think she answered very respectable…IMO…

Sandra

Are you kidding me with this? how rude! she even responded politely if you ask me.. I would have done worse! does he meet the so called “standards” the world has????? and she gets sacked for that??

Dana
I am not surprised from this station. I stopped watching it years ago when they gave directions to a KKK rally. Im sorry this happened to her. I learned a long time ago the best response ever for people that have a problem with my hair is to tell them that this is the way the Lord made my hair and I choose to wear it as such. I then ask them if they are saying they know more than God on what kind of texture I should have for my hair. They usually take a second to get their… Read more »
Candice

How did she get fired over that? She gave a MUCH more balanced and controlled response than I would have. I think the station had a problem with her “look” as well, and this was their excuse to fire her. Discrimination lawsuit??? Wrongful termination? I think so…

Lisa

I don’t understand why she was terminated. Her response was intelligent, informative and respectful.

Froregade

Well this certainly reveals the kind of image that the news network wishes to hold if they are going to fire her over this. Usually organizations, though they tend to try to get all employees to shy away from vocalizing any ‘opinion’, they only make a huge deal about it if they feel like it puts them in a BAD light. The way she responded was perfectly mature, respectable and well-mannered. I’m a little confused over why she was fired for this.

Graham

Although I do find it inappropriate for her to respond in any light on her organizations website I do believe she addressed the man in a professional and informative way. She was not rude but showed her pride for her appearance and showed others reading that African American women such as herself are not willing to conform. Her job should not have been terminated because of that educational Facebook response.

Clara

She should have responded, and she did so perfectly and respectfully. Black women still experience oppression if they choose to wear their hair the way God made it. She stood up for who and what she is without being rude or judgemental and the fact that she was fired is just……ridiculous, for lack of a better word

Seruru
I don’t understand why it’s not appropriate for her to respond especially the way she did. This is the problem with the world we live in we have to be careful what we say to who, and when we say it because of how it may look or their status or becuase of who we’re linked to. Noone should be apologetic about a situation like this, where some fool thinks they have the right to make an irrelivant comment, whether hes a white man or black woman whoever, having nothing to do with her executing her job properly. It shows… Read more »
anastasia
I’m right with you. There are moments when I feel like running through the office with a machete, stepping on headless pink necks screaming “They call me Natalie X Turner and I’m here to take my liberty and freedom by any means necessary”….we are fools if we think we live in a post-racial society. I’m at the point in my life where I’m not even surprised anymore.Ugh! We must send a message to ABC and its’ affiliates that we will not standby silently like sheep whilst they engage in unethical, cowardly, and discrimantory practices. Off to find petition, phone number,… Read more »
anastasia

Info: Join me and many others and give ’em he!! ladies!

Here’s the link to their contact page: http://www.ktbs.com/
KTBS
312 E. Kings Highway
Shreveport, Louisiana USA 71104
Main Number 318-861-5800

Station Manager:
George Sirven 318-861-5821
gsirven@ktbs.com

Have not had the fortune to find an active petition as of yet…we’ve got many great writers who post frequently on BGLH, anyone care to craft a petition?

Mr. Sirven and others are about to hear from Stasia!Join me ladies. =)

kimdione

I actually emailed the address above to question Ms. Lee’s termination. I received what I believe to be an automated response saying that she and a male anchor were both fired for repeatedly responding to viewer comments. The message read that all employees were warned they would be terminated,if they did this. I’m not sure of what to think. Did she know she would be fired and respond anyway?

anastasia

From what I’ve read, this ‘no comment’ policy was not established in their written contract.

Shay

I echo ur response fully..I dont think it was appropriate for her to respond to anyone, however she did do it somewhat professionally. People have to learn when its not athe right time to respond and then she went off talking about stuff that the original poster wasnt even talking about.

E.

What did she do that was wrong?

peter burke

Oh but it was ok for a White woman to defend herself not only by letter but by a public announcement that was carried nationwide to a young woman that denounced her about her weight?? Public! She went public! Was she fired? Shay you should be fired from your job for your response to her response..that is if you have a job. Smh

J. Nicole
I believe I read elsewhere that she was also responsible for responding to social media content; in fact if she was able to respond- and that goes for whether you are a journalist or work in corporate America- to a companies Facebook page, then one has admin rights to do so. In my opinion it was appropriate. She has also asked the station to have previous racist comments removed when a viewer asked why a segment had so many “children of color in it”. Her response to the guy questioning how she wears her hair included not only why she… Read more »
Sheshe

I agree with you totally, especially about the station.

EG

Why wasn’t it appropriate for her to respond but perfectly fine for the white anchor to do so? I couldn’t click on a news site without reading how brave the white anchor was for standing up for herself….what is the difference between the two women?

Aliren

I agree with you 100%. Her response was a lot more respectful than the other anchor.

coffeeandfingernails

I was fully expecting to read that this woman had gone on a (perfectly understandable) rant against this guy. Instead she gave a strong, but respectful response, and while she didn’t change his mind, he didn’t seem to be particularly offended. Why on earth would this be a firable offense?

Gina

She got fired for saying that? This is just crazy

Ishmael

The viewer simply gave his opinion. A reply wasn’t necessary. She went way overboard with her explanation. “This is how I choose to wear my hair”, would have been sufficient. If she did indeed get fired for her response,the station must have a lot of money that want to give away. We may not have heard the whole story.

Marie

There is no reason she should have been fires. Obviously this guy is ignorant so I would not have responded so personally. But absolutely she is right. I would love to know how this station will eloquently explain why she was fired.

Leo the Yardie Chick

I know, right? She didn’t curse, she didn’t tear the Negative-Nancy down…so why was she fired? Should she not have defended herself?

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