Social media can land employees in a heap of trouble, and meteorologist Rhonda A. Lee found that truth out firsthand. Ms. Lee lost her job at KTBS-TV, an ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La. when she responded to a Facebook post criticizing her short afro.

The post read as follows via Journal-isms:

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?. . .”

Though Lee’s response seems professional and mature given the nature of Vascocu’s criticism, she was reprimanded by her employer and subsequently fired. It’s even more puzzling that KTBS-TV could not reference a documented rule that Ms. Lee was in violation of: “I had a meeting with my ND [news director] and GM [general manager] Friday trying to get my job back,” Lee said. “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.”

Lee cites racism as the impetus behind her firing, and says she’s experienced it regularly since becoming a meteorologist as “weather is [a] white boy business.” Be that as it may, she shouldn’t have to fight off racist attacks from viewers, and certainly not from her employer.


What do you think of Rhonda Lee’s experience, Clutchettes? Should she have responded? Is KTBS-TV justified for firing her?

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291 Comments

  1. siobhan

    Wow, I’m so stunned! What did she say wrong? That was a very mature way to comment back after what he said about her, I’m doby understand why she got fired?

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  2. This is really sad. I wonder how many people think she’s playing the “race card” in this situation. If she violated a rule and that’s what had to be done, ok…but the fact this rule isn’t written down and wasn’t exactly fleshed out for her since she didn’t attend the meeting…well…that seems a little bit suspicious to me.

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  3. A. It is called SOCIAL media, not EMPLOYMENT media, professional media, workplace media… This whole idea of using facebook as a way to use ones personal feelings against them in the workplace has always seemed ridiculous to me.
    B. Her response was professional. She didn’t say anything negative about the person, no profanity was used, her statements didn’t degrade any race & was, I think, somewhat enlightening.
    C. Where is the support? This woman has done NOTHING wrong. She has a very strong legal case and I hope the network is ready for the backlash and the fight that there will be afterward.
    Rhonda Lee, I applaud you. Please find an attorney that will stop at nothing to get you justice and make all networks take a second guess of attempting this in the future.

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  4. Overseas_Honeybee

    I used to rock a fade a few years back and also worked in television. I was also approached about my hair and kindly told my employers to take it or leave it. She had every right to speak up for herself. Trust … it sounds like her employers may have been looking for a way to get rid of her for whatever reason anyway and FB was a scapegoat. They knew (just as my employers did) there was very little they could do legally to force someone to change their hair (unless the issue/guidelines were made known upfront and in writing i.e. policy letter, memo etc. beforehand) I hope she takes them to court.

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  5. You may be right, but mostly based on the odds that a white person (though most likely male) would be in upper management of a broadcasting company. Not necessarily because of race. Who kows, maybe they’re just lame @ssholes.

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