Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WTF Wednesdays: Black Meteorologist Fired For Responding to Ignorant Comments About Her Afro


Louisiana television station KTBS fired meteorologist Rhonda Lee from her position at KTBS 3 News (a local ABC affiliate) after she responded to racially charged remarks about her short natural hairstyle.

The exchange between her and a KTBS viewer happened back in October on KTBS 3 News’ Facebook page, where a viewer, Emmitt Vascocu, posted a comment that referred to Lee as the "black lady that does the news" and suggested that she should "wear a wig or grow some more hair."

**shaking my damn head**

Below is what the viewer had to say:

“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).”
Now after reading that, I believe Lee responded back nicely and with class. Read her response below:

“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.”

The viewer, Emmitt Vascocu responded with this:

“. . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if you’ve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . .”

On Nov. 14, a man named Kenny Moreland wrote this on the station’s page:

“Not to start any trouble, because I think that the annual ‘Three Minute Smile’ is a great function and I love to see kids so happy. Am I the only one that has noticed that this year, all the kids, lets say, are people of color? This is Channel 3, not KSLA, the ‘Project Pride’ network, that might as well be part of the BET Channel. Did KTBS slip up on a news story, and owe S’port’s criminal mayor Cedric, a favor? Seems like some racism going on to me. Just saying…..”

Lee responded:

“I’m not sure I understand your comment, ‘…this is Channel 3 not KSLA…’ What are you trying to say? The children are picked at random. So there goes your theory that they are selected for their color. I would like to think it doesn’t matter who the child is. If you truly just want to see the kids happy your message had a funny way of showing it. Happy holidays.–Met. Rhonda Lee”

KTBS released an official statement about Rhonda Lee's termination where they said:

"...Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure"

Online petitions are now also starting to form in support of Rhonda Lee. Read more on the latest about this story over here at the Huffington Post to see what happened after Lee's termination and to read KTBS' full statement.

Lee also reached out to Journal-isms to explain her side of the story:

"I had a meeting with my ND [news director] and GM [general manager] Friday trying to get my job back. 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. The week I was brought in to discuss [the] last post, I was told by my ND that there were a few unclear things in the policy and that we were going to have a meeting with George Sirven, the GM about it. I was instead fired the next week — no discussion had. Sirven claims that even if a policy isn’t on paper we as employees are responsible for abiding by them. There isn’t anything in our employee manual talking about social media dos and don’ts. I was accountable for a rule that essentially isn’t in existence.”

Something sounds a little fishy. Policies should be written on paper, not just discussed out loud when everyone is not even present at the meeting to begin with. Seems like this station didn't want to deal with any further controversies so they just took the easy road out. What do you think?

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I can relate to Lee as a black woman. My hair has been through it all: braids, perms, color, twists, weaves, even breakage... all of it. I've recently cut my hair and dyed it... only for some parts of my hair in the back to break off. I'm done with dyes, I'm done with weaves and I may be done with perms and my straightening iron.

I've been contemplating over whether or not I should let my hair grow out natural. But, then again, I work in a professional setting and I don't want to miss out on any future work opportunities (like getting a new job) because of just how my hair isn't straightened. Yes, there are people out there who won't hire someone over there looks.

I had my hair naturally out before. I let it air dry and didn't straighten it only to hear comments like, "oh! what happened to your hair?" I wanted to reply, "what do you mean? This is MY hair," but instead I let it slide and simply would tell those who asked, "I didn't feel like straigtening it today."

I don't think people realize, everyone has different hair. Not everyone's hair is naturally straight and those who don't have naturally straight hair, doesn't mean they have "bad hair." Like Lee said, "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." 

Black women and hair has been a battle for years... way before I was born. It even has some women wearing those messed up lace front wigs when wearing their natural hair would look so much better.

When I was born, I was told by my parents that a member of my family (who shall remain nameless) first looked at me and the first thing they said was, "Lanette is going to have bad hair." This family member supposedly said this because as a baby I had a full set of hair and supposedly infants who have too much hair are going to have "bad hair" when they get older.

It's sh*t like this that pisses me off. What is "bad hair" and who has "bad hair"?

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