COMMENTARY: Black Woman Fired Over Response to Short Hairstyle

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  • I hope Rhonda Lee gets her job back. In fact, she never should have lost her job over a short Afro hairstyle in the first place.

    Lee, an African American meteorologist, was recently fired from the ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La., because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station’s Facebook page, according to Richard Prince, who first reported the story in his diversity column — “Journal-isms” — for The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

    In what appears to be an unfair dismissal, Lee was hastily fired simply for defending her hairstyle after a viewer suggested that she wear a wig or start growing more hair.

    A wig? Really?

    The viewer’s comments were insulting, ignorant and racially inflammatory—yet Lee got the ax.

    That’s just wrong. The station gave the bigoted viewer a pass but tossed their black female meteorologist over the side.

    “I had a meeting with my [news director] and GM [general manager] Friday trying to get my job back,” Lee told Prince in her first interview since she was fired. “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.”

    “I was instead fired the next week — no discussion had,” Lee explained. “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.”

    There are many problems with Lee’s situation. Since the station doesn’t have a written policy in place to terminate Lee, it sounds as though Lee may have a legal case to pursue.

    The station should also be aware – and acknowledge – racial social media postings by viewers about its employees.

    Lee also offered Prince examples of Facebook postings to the station’s website that clearly have racial overtones.

    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 it’s 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).”

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    27 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Black Woman Fired Over Response to Short Hairstyle


    2. It is a very Good Time for Black People in general to start Boycoting Prejudice Business’s,News Stations,and Many Other Organizations that Used We Black Folks as Their Tools to Please the United States; A Country that I went to War for’ Go Figure.

    3. Pingback: Station Says Axing Was About Policy, Not Hair |

    4. I see nothing Ms. Lee did wrong for them to have fired her. What happen to the verbal warning…no need to talk about the written warn because we did not even get to the verbal warning… Maybe the station was looking for an excuse which they are always looking for an excuse to fire an African American. But this time they broke their own rules. Where is the Verbal Warning?

      • Why the station did not defend her on these racial comments? She had to defend herself and she did it in a very professional manner. So what was the EXCUSE for firing her? Did the station feel the same way the viewer did?

        Now that Black Women are starting to wear their hair natural people are trying to make us feel insecure the same way they tried to make our Black Men feel. When will the racist, envy and jealousy STOP?

        • Lee’s statement to Prince: They (News Director/GM) 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.”
          Another EXCUSE to fire a Black Person…!

    5. Pingback: Seriously: When will the Black Hair issue will cease? « Stephen's Spot

    6. The hair issue is not what got her fired, she works for an employer who feel that employee’s do not have the priviledge to discussed the pros or cons of viewers comment. They have a department for that and she should apply for that job is she want to respond to viewers comments. I bet she will learn from her experience and leave viewers to exercising the right to free speech, which she does not have as an employee.

    7. WOW!! For real?? Love it, or hate it…what does her hair have to do with reporting/forecasting the weather? Unless the viewer can only receive one channel on his t.v., no one’s forcing him to watch…turn baby turn.

      Fired? No written, or verbal policies/procedures in place? The station really should have thought this one through before they gave her the ax. I wouldn’t ask for my job back because I’d be to busy conferring with my new team of sue-’em-up lawyers…Scratchin’ My Bald Head!!

    8. A beautiful lady, and a more civilized response than a lot of women would have given. Was she fired because she was not allowed to respond at all? Is that what I’m missing? And if so, how come nobody told her? The first beautiful black woman I’ve seen in the public arena in a long time that shows more class than ass, and she gets fired for it. Boycott the station.

    9. I have to say I prefer Ms Lee’s natural hair. Her looks are absolutely beautiful. A carefree style on black women allow them to workout more, (thus the 25 miles per week). Sorry that she is going through the same struggle that Black men went through in the early seventies when we started shaving our heads. Many in business thought it unprofessional. I know many qualified black men who weren’t considered for jobs after showing up at the interview bald. Now look at us; Tom, Steve, it’s excepted.

      • I simply do not understand what the issue is over her hair. Not many women can get away with wearing their hair so short. In her case, she has beautiful facial features and her short hair looks very becoming on her. I am proud to see her standing her ground and hope that she is reinstated in her position as a weather lady immediately. I have to agree with Sean B.; the station would have to be blind to not realize the Pandora’s box they have opened. It’s my understanding that if a policy is not in print among a business’ other many policies, it is not a policy that can hold up in court, at least not in federal court. Isn’t it way past the time that racism ends so that we all can move forward together as a country?

    10. We as viewers can have a voice in this by simple changing the station until someone from higher up with more common sense offers her back her job with an apology.

    11. On a daily basis Black people in general and
      Black women in particular are subjected to
      And victims of the Caucasian measuring stick.
      While I’m sure some consideration was made
      About Ronda Lee not being to dark when she
      Was hired as a TV meteorologist, KTBS
      Never thought her beautiful natural hair would
      become an issue. And we wonder why the majority
      of white people want to believe the lie that Jesus
      Christ was white, blond and blue eyed despite the
      Biblical and scientific facts to the contrary.
      Click here to see

    12. I am amazed and dismayed that black folks are still terrorized over their hair. About 14 years ago my hair was half way down my back. But it was brittle and fragile due to perming. Eventually some of it broke off and I cut the rest. I wore extensions for a while; then twists and a fro. I have been insulted and complemented for my natural hair. I think it looks great and so does Ms Lee’s. I hope she sues the station and wins. They violated her right to be all she can while appearing as she likes with respect to herself and her heritage.

    13. Wow, I am shocked Lee was fired over her comment. Lee’s comment expressed her views on her appearance which the viewer questioned. Its funny how the white Wisconsin anchor was congratulated for defending herself against the viewer who criticized her weight.

    14. Trust and believe, I am sure the station is aware they have opened up Pandora’s box and will try to hire her back quickly. I would be shocked if they don’t.

    15. This is just crazy! Are they serious? I hope she sues the pants off of them and then get an opprtunity somewhere else she her looks and her talent are apprreciated. what a bunch of crap this is!

    16. She was fired because the ignorant viewer was stating what her bosses at the ABC station were also thinking. They were uncomfortable with her hair and when she responded to the viewer that gave them the perfect opportuity to solve the problem. Sometimes you just can’t brush it off. There are times when you have to react. She told him to kiss off in a very professional manner.

      Shame on the station for not standing behind her in her choice. They will probably replace her with another black women. Her replacement will have the “right look.”

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