1:28 am - 12/12/2012

KTBS-TV Meteorologist Rhonda Lee Fired For Responding To Racist Viewer Comments On Facebook

This is seriously ridiculous and pretty damn racist. Rhonda A. Lee, a meteorologist at KTBS-TV, an ABC affiliate in Shreveport, LA, was fired for (very politely) responding to (inane) Facebook comments about her hair. Let's just hop in because it's infuriating and ugh.

According to Clutch:

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?. . ."

Subsequent to this interaction — which Lee handled so well that I'm thinking of hiring her for my future PR business, Dealing with Dumbasses, Inc. — she was reprimanded and then fired by station managers. For real. That happened. No, this is not backwards day in crazy town, it's reality in the United States of America, Pop. WE FUCKED.

Of course, KTBS-TV couldn't even demonstrate any rules that 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."

On November 14, a KTBS viewer named Kenny Moreland, whose Facebook profile picture is of The Little Rascals‘ Buckwheat character captioned “Buckwheat Say: O-Tay,” posted the following comment (shown above), on the station’s Facebook page, about KTBS’ annual “Three Minute Smile” contest, which gives winners a 3-minute shopping spree through a local WalMart.

Moreland left a similar comment on the station’s website earlier that same day:

Not measured enough, apparently, because Ms. Lee is gone, while Kenny Moreland’s comment is still there. Rhonda Lee told Journal-isms‘ Richard Price that she was the one who alerted the station to the offensive comment, but rather than take it down, the station took her down:

“I was the one who brought it to their attention after they let it fester on the page for 6 days, but was then chastised for responding at all. I sent a screen grab to my boss via e-mail telling them that I’m ok with the anti-Rhonda commentary sometimes, but what has been posted at the time was . . . racist, and I asked them to please support me in removing the ones that didn’t encourage thoughtful, respectful and civil discourse on our FB page. I never got a reply, only punished. To this day the posts are still there.”

It’s hard to believe that a station would fire someone for such a relatively innocuous response, and the station won’t comment, but Price points out that Rhonda Lee sued one former employer for discrimination. From Journal-isms:

Lee told Journal-isms, “. . . Race has been the issue with me since I started. That much is VERY true. Weather is an older white boy business and arms have been less than open for a young black girl — a polar opposite. As reported I’ve had more problems here in the south than I have anywhere else in my 25+ years in the business. Perhaps there is a pattern, but I am a glutton for punishment (ha, ha), and I want what I deserve as any professional would so if I have to fight for it I will.

It appears the station is more comfortable with racism than they are with a meteorologist who is (politely) not comfortable with it, just as some Americans see more of a problem with people talking about racism than with the racism itself.
Edit: The station just put up an official response on their Facebook.

Source 1 and 2
Yeah okay. Fire her without warning over a non-existent policy that isn't written down anywhere and leave those shitty comments up on Facebook. I can't. Furthermore, the station even "liked" the racist comments on Facebook.
ascot_gavotte 12th-Dec-2012 04:03 pm (UTC)
that sounds about right
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