It’s been more than a year since Rhonda Lee was fired from her meteorologist anchor position after defending her natural hair and Black kids on her station’s Facebook page.
If you recall, Lee made national news after KTBS 3 News, an ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La., fired her in November of 2012 after she responded to several racially insensitive messages on the station’s Facebook page. The first Facebook post dealt with a viewer who thought that she did a good job, but needed to change her hair style. Here is the exchange between that viewer and Lee:
The following month, Facebook commenter Kenny Moreland criticized KTBS 3 News’ annual “Three Minute Smile” segment, which awards children a 3-minute shopping spree at a local Walmart. Apparently, Moreland wasn’t pleased that all of the winners were Black children. Below is his comment and Lee’s response:
Lee says her replies got her fired, ending her 14-month stint at the station. As NewsOne previously reported, the station’s official response was that she was fired for violating its social media policy. Lee, however, says she was never made aware of such a policy and feels the station became uncomfortable with viewer complaints over her hair and her reply to the “Three Minute Smile” post. She says she has filed an EEOC complaint against the station and is in mediation to resolve her dismissal.
She has not held a TV job since and told NewsOne in an exclusive interview that her hair is still an issue–even with those who want to see her employed again.
“Co-workers have had an intervention of sorts with me when I first started trying to get weather jobs,” Lee said. “They took me to lunch and told me, ‘You’re going to have to grow your hair out.’”
She doesn’t see the point, though. Why should she have to wear a weave to deliver the weather? “I don’t know why they care,” Lee said of people offering advice on how she should deal with her job hunt. “I don’t know why anyone cares. As long as it’s well-kept and looks OK.”
For her admirable stance of defending Black beauty, Lee is watching weather reports from home instead of delivering them like she used to. And it isn’t for a lack of trying, either. For example, a frat brother (Lee is a member of Zeta Phi Beta) talked her up to a station manager once, but that produced nothing. Another colleague hand delivered her resume to a news director at a Florida station, but she got radio silence from the Sunshine state, too. Lee even hired an agent after she lost the KTBS 3 News job, but it didn’t work out; she is on her second one now. Still, no job. Not even an interview.
Lee went to the annual NABJ conference (the National Association for Black Journalists) in Orlando Fla., last summer and caught up with some friends and colleagues who were sympathetic to her situation. “‘Oh, I remember you. You’re not working yet?,’” Lee remembers people saying. After a week of networking at the largest stage for Black journalists, Lee still got no leads.
While her meteorology career has stalled, Lee’s personal life has blossomed. She is engaged to a lawyer in Shreveport and gave birth to a health baby boy, Lewis; he is 5-months-old now. But she still misses being on television. “Maybe this will be my year, but it was a little shocking not to get anything from anybody,” she said.