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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  • Smilez_920

    If they don’t rehire her, she should take this matter to court, especially if they are firing her for a policy that she was not informed of . If a employee is not at the ” new policy meeting” information should be emailed to all employess and printed on the companies employee page so that they can be given the proper information.

    I think her response was very professional. And if this man commented on her personal Facebook page and not the company fb page , then I don’t see the problem. ( I’m aware that a lot of companies have social media policies ).

    I think the station was waiting to fire her, and finally found a ” bs reason”.

  • Thank you Ms. Lee! As a fellow journalist with natural hair, I applaud you for standing up! Even though we are in a field where there is a standard for how you are supposed to look on air, you defied that. I appreciate that because I realize that I’m going to go through the same thing when I get a professional job. They’re going to tell me to straighten my hair or wear a weave.

    What I don’t get is how she got fired, but the overweight news reporter who spoke out against her aggressor wasn’t? Here’s a link to the story:

  • Anthony

    All I can say is that man who criticized her short hair must not like women because Ms. Lee is one fine looking female.

    That dude needs to go to a Korean hair store in the hood, buy a wig, wrap it around his junk, make himself happy, and leave the rest of us alone!

  • victoria

    I wouldnt be surprised if the viewer who wrote to her via facebook was a black man.

    Her reponse was extremely professional. They clearly were looking for a reason to fire her. And I have to say, Ive never seen a black female meteorologist. Im sure she upset a lot of people with that.

    Btw, she is a beautiful woman.

    • Janae

      Come on really? Why do you think it’s a black man? Are you trying to shift some of the claims of racism? Either way you’re wrong. Emmitt also posted before on the stations page that giving toys to poor black children was racism.

      Also, you can take look at him yourself. He’s not black.

  • Misty_Moonsilver

    Wow. complete BS. Why didn’t that fat journalist get fired for addressing comments made to her?? When a black woman defends herself, its unacceptable. Wow.