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?

291 Comments

  1. 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.

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  2. 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

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    • funkyhairchic

      That was my first thought.I believe she was set up. Perhaps a phony account FB provoking her to respond. I.find it coincidental that they happened to convene in a meeting about an unwritten rule a month before. She better sue for wrongful termination immejiately! She’s gorgeous by the way.

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    • Exactly! Show me the policy!!!

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    • Janae

      That guy has been leaving stupid comments on the station’s Facebook page for a while. I don’t think it was a setup, I think he’s a jerk and so is the manager who made the decision to fire her.

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    • Rio VonWolf

      I came over from another site to understand more about this action. You helped in that it was the station’s site not her personal one. Now I understand the problem.
      In this time with social media we forget that it is not private. Nor a soapbox.

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    • Enticement…you’d be surprised how much money folk spend (or don’t) to see that others don’t rise above.

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    • @Hurit Nitika , I completely agree with you . Sounds like someone was working from the inside . They tried to sabotage her success . and although it may have slowed her down , I believe that what God has planned for you is yours . Everything happens for a reason , as they say . She stated that , where some are given a platform ,she was given a pink slip . Well maybe she was really given a much bigger platform than she thought . That will be my prayer . You have to fight injustice ,no matter where you live . It breaks my heart that things like this happen. I am from Birmingham Alabama , as I’m sure that anyone who knows about the civil rights movement is familiar with . Yet I can not imagine something like that happening to one of our local news reporters . It seems unreal . By the way , where can we sign this petition? Even though if I were her is never go back there . they need to know that she has supporters .

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    • Truth indeed!

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  3. 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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    • this is Obama backlash

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    • Lester_Diamond

      Which in itself is rooted in ignorance.

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    • Janae

      I don’t necessarily think it’s a white backlash, if you look at the commenter’s facebook page you’ll see that he’s an old white guy from the south that probably felt this way for a long time. It’s the same old ignorant story fed to him by his parents and/or peers.

      Racism yes, some sort of new backlash? No.

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  4. minnie

    Can you say lawsuit!!! Her response is very tactful while providing a bit of history of African American’s hair. I agree with the others that said the other overweight anchor woman was praised for standing up against bullying. They were looking for a reason to fire her. So Ms. Lee, look for a reason to sue the socks, pants, shirts off of them. How dare they enforce a policy that they never implemented to all the employees. I would love to find out what happens here.

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    • there are no racists comments made by the woman who was talking about the African American meteorologist. I don’t get it….. She was commenting about her hair; NOT her ethnicity

      The reporter who was fired turned the viewers comment into a racist topic (in which it wasn’t) and she was fired for her response towards the viewer; which is perfectly fine because she was representing the news station when she commented back so negative. that’s like if i worked at walmart and wore a walmart polo shirt and then got into a fight with someone out in town. walmart can fire me because i am wearing a walmart shirt and i am still somewhat representing walmart.

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    • You obviously didn’t even read the story thoroughly . Because it was a He not a she the made the comments . The meteorologists only explained why she chose to wear her hair in that style , and that it was not because she was sick . I don’t see anything wrong with enlightening someone that was clearly in the dark .

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    • Eileena

      I see that this went over your head. She said nothing wrong and should not have been fired. The policy wasn’t written. She gave an excellent response. My friend you don’t get it!

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    • Nakia

      From the article: “. . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . .”

      Implicit racism. If a “certain standard” that does not include a black woman’s natural, nature-given hair does not reek of racism to you, then you need to engage in some introspection about your views on Black people. He is essentially saying “just because you come from a world of being black, you don’t have to wear your hair like a black woman. That is unpleasant to white (read: better, professional, smart) eyes.”

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    • Medusa

      This bullshit right here? Why I will never, ever live in the States again. Even with all the intelligent, thoughtful, open-minded, educated people around me, I could never, ever, ever, escape the racism and the “it’s not about race” justifications of racist statements. So fucking obtuse and willfully ignorant.

      Not saying I live now is a post-racial utopia, just that I cannot stand this shit and will never deal with it again.

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  5. Soooo the fat white woman can respond ON AIR and be praised but the natural hair black woman gets FIRED? Boy I tell ya whitey is mad Obama got 4 more years!

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    • Michelle

      They don’t work for the same people. With that being said I do think she was fired for race or because they just didn’t like her. Her response was well written and a lot more respectful than he deserved.

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