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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[…] I started reading some of the comments following the article on Black Girl with Long Hair.  At the time there were only a handful (maybe about 30), and most of them expressed the same […]

Judith Mitchell
This was forwarded to me today by a male friend who resides in the USA. I am Canadian and so there is not much that I can do here; however, I shall be bringing this to the attention of every person that I know who knows someone in the USA. I shall suggest strongly that each and every Black/Africian American person write to the TV station and register their disgust with this action, and tell them to refrain from supporting any and every company that sponsors the station until this lady is apologised to publically then rehired, if she chooses… Read more »
Taylor G

She did NOT get fired because of her hair or comment! hence first comment. I will repost the link that she did.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/ktbs-tv-meteorologist-rhonda-lee-fired-for-responding-to-racist-viewer-comment-on-facebook/

louloumatou
Avaspeaks
I too think it was wrong for her to get fired over her comments. But I also agree that he wasn’t talking about her Natural hair texture, he just mentioned she should have long hair. A lot of people feel that way. Heck, even this board was started for people who wanted to grow their “natural” hair long. She went a little extra. She was explaining things to him that really didn’t need to be said in the conversation. You have to be careful and you can’t respond to everybody the same way. If Roland Martin, as big as he… Read more »
Yoli
I think this story is a shame, but sheds a light on a problem that natural African American women in professional jobs face. While it maybe true she violated a policy (weather written or widely accepted in the media profession) about responding to posts on Facebook, (which mind you has yet to be presented by the station in written form with an acknowledgement of the rules by Mrs. Lee and others who work at the station) I would argue that the policy, even if it even exists, is seriously flawed. Not trying to take this to deep level, but I… Read more »
Jacque Brunson

U think the newscaster is absolutely beautiful just the way she is and applaud her for eloquently putting into words that she is happy with her God given looks and hair. I went natural 12 years ago and feel no need to chemically straighten my hair or wear weaves or wigs to be considered “beautiful”! I got your back Sister! Society is gonna recognize sooner than later that Black women are beautiful whether rocking weaves, wigs, relaxed, loc’s, twists or an Afro. Recognize America! We are here to stay!!!

ShebaBarb

Why in the world does she need to be fired? She did nothing but answer back to whosoever it was that sent the email out. I am proud of the way she answered. She stood up for herself and that is our right as human beings. I pray she sues and gets paid enough to last until she decides which way to go next as in her desires. I say, let’s boycott the station that did this to her. BTW she is a very attractive young lady.

Jamie
I hate to play devil’s advocate on this subject, but I’m a mass communication graduate student so I have a different perspective. I recently wrote a paper about social media policies of news organizations, and many newsrooms prohibit their reporters from responding to negativity on social outlets. While her response was very dignified, I believe that she may have gotten fired for simply violating the policy. Furthermore, I read that her company said that they would handle it, but she posted when they failed to respond. This situation is still horrible, but I think it helps to have a journalism… Read more »
CurlyBelle
Even if we’re looking at this from a journalistic perspective, the station was in the wrong. This station does not have a social media policy on their books. It was merely a suggestion for her to not respond, and that the situation was merely a starting point for them to develop a policy. This is in a statement released by the station on their Facebook page. They even liked the comment posted by the guy who insulted her! So liking the comment AND releasing that statement in response to the public’s comments means the station itself was in violation as… Read more »
Vanessa Jamille

Is there a reason that there are no actions being taken against the TV station by the viewers, i.e. boycotting sponsors, reverting to radio, uprisings by fellow meterologists? Madame C.J. Walker may have thought she was helping Black girls and women (especially bi-racial women who were the result of rape by enslavers), but the end result seems to be another nail in the coffin of acceptance of being natural and REAL!

Felicia

I love her response! I think everyone should boycott that news station who fired her! Disgraceful!

Nika

I also signed th epetition on change.org. This is absolutely ridiculous. She was informative and very respectful despite the dierespect she received, yet she was fired. The white woman who was loud and abrasive to the man who called her fat was lauded as a hero to women everywhere. I hate these double standards. This woman should not be forced to wear a wig put dangerous chemicals in her hair to have a job. She is beautiful and deserves her job back, and an on air apology.

Vickey
I have been reading this story on twitter and was disgusted, but not surprised. I have a natural hair club at the high school where I teach and this story will be the first topic on our Thursday discussion list. This is why so many women of color can’t find the courage to love and honor who they are without conforming to a standard of beauty that was never meant to be met by them. And for this woman to be fired for the ignorance of a viewer is more a commentary on the values and position of that station… Read more »
:izzie-Chio
This is absolutely ridiculous. She definitely has grounds to report to court for unethical termination. If i was her I would definitely be taking this case to court. Her response to this person’s derogatory comment was beautiful. I could not have said it any better. I love how she stud up for what she believes to be beautiful. Personally I am transitioning and what caused me to do this was that I wanted to see my natural hair. For the past 9 months because of my transitioning my idea of beauty has changed for the better. There is no way… Read more »
Dana

1) this sista is fly. her features are awesome.
2) she didn’t need to tell her whole health story. The fact that she’s breathing is enough grounds to be respected.
3) I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Emmitt’ was negro.
4) Emmitt needs to be punched in the mouth for comparing a culture with poverty and rags.
5) 121lbs. in her thirties? what is her weight loss/maintenance regimen?
6) Although she doesn’t have long hair can she be an icon? It takes a bit of resolve to be almost bald on TV…in Wisconsin.

Richard

Interesting. Was the complainant a black or white. I wouldn’t be surprise at all to find out that he was black!

Varaka

This is my home town, and its sad to say but yes racism is very much alive here.. This is afterall a Red State. I saw nothing wrong with what she said in her reply back to that ignorant comment. However, you would have to live here to understand the magnitude of ignorance that we face as a Black Race. This is not the first nor the last time that a racist remark, comment or post will come from that particular FB page.

Nicole

how can she be a 25 year veteran of the new industry, when she says she’s 37.5? Either she’s lying or this article is inacurate. and judging by the link that JP Mack posted, I’d say it’s the later.

kmurray

Maybe she is a 25 year veteran because she has been doing it still middle school. I remember when some kids were on the school newspaper.

Andriea ISH

The article about this situation discloses some disheartening things. Rhonda says that she’s been dealing with some issues because of her race, ever since she started at the station. It’s sad that we still have to go through this stuff. Our hair and the color of our skin causes ignorant people to lash out at us, as if we were physically hurting them by being comfortable with ourselves.

Yolonda
I’m applaud that she has gotten fired over her right to do what ever she chose to do with her hair, body ect!!! What exactly did she say or do wrong??? She responded appropriately to the young lady. Why does she have to change her appearance to please society?? How rude was the young lady to think she had cancer because her hair is short. WTH, FYI, Majority of people with short afro’s aren’t cancer patients. (Ignorance at it’s best)Seriously, some people in society need to get over themselves…she’s not her hair!!!! This is an outrage to me! “So, basically… Read more »
amoy

this is bullshit how dare them! i tell u racism will never end because of ppl like that bitch a silly excuse for a woman.

ashley wilson

Sporty afros was the first article that published this and actually knew Rhonda. The site brings up very good points of other black newscasters who are natural. http://sportyafros.com/hair/rhonda-lee-fired-her-responding-to-comments-about-her-natural-hair/

shadiboo

It should be illegal for someone to be fired for standing up for their beliefs and actually loving themselves. i hope she sues.

Shahidah

Her response was quite elegant and I cannot see WHY she was fired. I don’t know if his comment was racist because MANY black men say the same isht. It was ignorant and shows the standard of beauty that all of us fall trap into especially our own damn men. If this was the only reason she was fired…she has a case and a story

Nkanyeziyethu Malunga
Nkanyeziyethu Malunga

This goes to show how ignorant people are, and we can not hide behind the fact that ‘having straight hair/ weave is the only idea the media has sold to people. The truth is one is never held at gun point to buy the idea. Rhonda Lee deserves a round of applause for making emphasis on the varied standards of beauty.

Felicia

I’m so tired of African American women having to explain to anyone, how, why, or how we should wear our hair….and to be terminated for the fact is ludacris. I’m proud of Rhonda Lee and apparently she is as well.

MeLinda McClaine

I think that her response was very respectful & completely appropriate.
It’s pathetic that her employer chose to fire her rather than support her.

jessica seigel

to Melinda McClaine. I agree. Her response was VERY respectful, very patient, very mild, and written in a way to kindly educate, and completely appropriate. Her claim, from an interview with her on MS-NBC, is that her employer said they had a policy against employees answering comments at all, but that they had never disseminated a statement of that policy, and when she asked for a copy to read, they could not supply her with one. If her statement is correct, it really puts her network in a bad light.

Mpakuanik Ian

Surely,when will this racist ‘games’ come to a final play.

Jhavon

I am proud to see this young woman stand up for her beliefs… too many African Americans conform to standards that affect who we are as a people… Natural hair is a very beautiful look on all sistas….

JP Mack
Ashley

+2. Thanks for the facts.

Chilo

+1

E.A.

Thank you for posting this! The title of this article is very misleading. Rhonda was fired for replying to a racist Facebook comment – not that that makes it’s okay, but let’s keep the facts straight. KTBS TV actually liked her response to the man who commented about her hair!

Maketa

Wow! Fired for submitting a very educational, informative, and professional response?? Does anyone know what the justification was for her being fired? I’m interested in reading that. What a crazy world we live in. Unfortunately, it will not get any better because society is dominated by the likes of the viewer and everyone is accepting of that. Until our society focuses on important issues vice skin color and hair texture, we will always have these issues.
Good luck to her though!

Tangenikka

This is a shame! Mrs. Lee being fired for voicing herself in response to a fan is an outrage! Now what is that teaching our youth? If we speak out we will be fired? It seems like Americans are more rasist towards blacks now that we have a black President. If you have or had a problem with who became our Commander and Chief then get together with fellow Americans and get them to vote for whom you want in office! Stop taking it out on the little Americans!

Khululekile Banzi

I do not see the reason for her to be fired, her ersponse was very much polite and did not in anyway violate the person who had posted the comment. This is extremely wrong and questionable.

Michelle S.

The same old double standard that has never been struck down. You can defend yourself as long as you are not Black.

Look at this fruit loop of a tennis player that stuffed herself to look like Serena Williams. If Williams had pulled a stunt like that they would have fined her as soon as she stepped on the court. Why was this bat allowed to run around the court like that.

Michelle S.

The same old double standard that has never been struck doen. You can defend yourself as long as you are not Black.

Look at this fruit loop of a tennis player that stuffed herself to look like Serena Williams. If Williams had pulled a stunt like that they would have fined her as soon as she stepped on the court. Why was this bat allowed to run around the court like that.

Adem
A number of things must first be addressed. First, she was justified in responding to him. He was ignorant in even commenting the way he did. She intelligently and eloquently responded, without being disrespectful or even out of line. To those of you, who felt she was addressing race. She was not addressing race, she actually just mentioned that due to her ethnicity. Her hair grows a certain way. That in order for her to achieve a straight hair look, she would have to straighten her hair. She just explained to him, that she is a healthy woman and that… Read more »
Marie
That was NOT an outside post. That was an in-house post from within the Executive Journalist network. She was fired for expressing her ethnicity rather than playing the cards many blacks girl are doing to save them jobs. Is to wear long black weaved Indian hair, and or blond wigs. The person sent that post I have a hunch was a jealous boss in power at the news station sent that email. I had a similar incidence happen to me when worked as a school counselor. A student which default on her student loan was not approved to enroll with… Read more »
P.Kindred

We must understand who own the networks, also a large part of the media.History has always reflect, those who control money, are those who feel they are the only ones who have a right to speak.

CRYSTAL

SHE GOT FIRED BECAUSE THE TV STATION DIDNT WANT TO DEAL WITH ANY ISSUES SURROUNDING THE STATEMENT. THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH OTHER RACES SO THEY DO WHAT EASY FOR THEM…GET RID OF THEM..HER SEPARATION HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT SHE SAID…SO SAD!!!!!

FilmmakerHarryB

She paid a price for educating the public. Ya need to watch the documentary “Dark Girls” it talks about this issue, but I’m sure lots of our white friends won’t see this…oh yea I was one of the cinematographers. Disclosure haha.

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