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?

  • Leo the Yardie Chick

    My hand to God, I had this mental image when I got to the ‘rags’ line. >_<

    From what I can see, she didn't curse and she didn't tear down her detractor. She was quite respectful in her response, so why on earth was she fired? As others have said, another reporter took someone criticizing her size, yet this lady's being punished for defending herself? *side-eye* Come on.

  • EST. 1986

    I don’t see anything wrong with her responding to what was said.

    I do think her employer firing her was completely unjustified.

  • Hurit Nitika

    Somebody set her up….they full well who she is and what they were trying to do…seeing that one of her attributes is speaking up for her Self—her Self empowerment is strong and ABLED. Somebody behind the desk didn’t like that…she just fell in the “trap”. She was going places with her destiny, someoneSSSS cut that route short. But of course, she can also embrace this opportunity as a blessing to venture into even greater worlds.

    Folk often have some counteractive unproductive indirect comment to make toward your achievements. When you see a gradual growth in that being, you’re on your right path.

    Eventually you’ll come so far away from those particular vibrations and frequencies that such negativity won’t even be ABLE to reach your height. Be your own superstar before the flame. Keep going up. Bless

  • EST. 1986

    I was going to mention the same thing. The overweight woman responded to her detractor on air and she was applauded for it.

  • Kay

    Wow. I’ve been watching this kind of white backlash for a while now, and as a nation we’ve been steadily regressing instead of progressing. This could have been a moment for the station to rally around its employee and champion diversity, instead they chose this route. It’s sad, and what’s even more sad is that the viewer who somehow equates short Black hair with poverty will feel validated by this station’s actions, instead of being educated about their ignorance. It surprises me how vocal people are becoming about their racism nowadays, and they dress it up as being anti-PC when they’re really anti-people of color.

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