A Black female meteorologist in Louisiana was fired for responding to a racist Facebook comment about her natural hair. Rhonda Lee, of KTBS in Shreveport was let go after defending her decision to rock short hair.
In early October viewer, Emmitt Vascocu, posted the comment online, expressing his disdain for Lee’s hair:
the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the onlt 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
Lee responded to Vascocu by first telling him that she doesn’t have cancer. “Hello Emmitt—I am the ‘Black lady’ to which you are referring,” she wrote. “Nice to meet you. I am sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And nor do I have cancer.”
She went on to state her pride for both her culture and hair choice. “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.”
The response was ended by thanking Vascocu for his comments and for being a viewer.
Lee’s boss was made aware of the correspondence and fired her a short time later. Since being let go, she has received several comments of support, and an online petition was started asking the she be rehired. “I was rather confused,” she told the New York Daily News of being fired. “I’m sitting here thinking ‘Why am I in trouble?’ If don’t say something, we’re condoning it.”
According to the station, although her boss felt that she should have informed management of the comment rather than responding, Lee was fired for repeatedly violating company policy and “not dismissed for her appearance.”
Vascocu has since apologized to Lee.
Photo: New York Daily News