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Tue Dec 11, 2012, 11:45 PM

Black meteorologist fired for responding to social media criticism of her short, natural hair

http://mije.org/richardprince/fired-over-facebook-posting#Rhonda%20Lee

A black female meteorologist has been fired from the ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La., she told Journal-isms, because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station's Facebook page.

KTBS-TV's action against Rhonda Lee followed a previous response by Lee to a viewer who questioned whether she should wear her short Afro, suggesting she put on a wig or grow more hair.


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?. . ."

38 replies, 3246 views

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Reply Black meteorologist fired for responding to social media criticism of her short, natural hair (Original post)
Ken Burch Dec 2012 OP
Tumbulu Dec 2012 #1
Ken Burch Dec 2012 #5
CreekDog Dec 2012 #14
dballance Dec 2012 #34
MrScorpio Dec 2012 #2
Ken Burch Dec 2012 #3
dipsydoodle Dec 2012 #37
Ken Burch Dec 2012 #38
backscatter712 Dec 2012 #4
BlueJazz Dec 2012 #6
LineLineReply +
struggle4progress Dec 2012 #25
RedCappedBandit Dec 2012 #7
Ken Burch Dec 2012 #9
lonestarnot Dec 2012 #8
lbrtbell Dec 2012 #10
Ken Burch Dec 2012 #23
area51 Dec 2012 #11
flamingdem Dec 2012 #12
pansypoo53219 Dec 2012 #13
SoCalDem Dec 2012 #17
malaise Dec 2012 #15
HiPointDem Dec 2012 #16
Fumesucker Dec 2012 #18
Ken Burch Dec 2012 #24
stevenleser Dec 2012 #32
gollygee Dec 2012 #19
ananda Dec 2012 #20
AverageJoe90 Dec 2012 #21
stuntcat Dec 2012 #22
struggle4progress Dec 2012 #26
Arkansas Granny Dec 2012 #29
Marrah_G Dec 2012 #27
Shankapotomus Dec 2012 #28
Nay Dec 2012 #30
barbtries Dec 2012 #31
LineNew Reply .
Go Vols Dec 2012 #33
Baitball Blogger Dec 2012 #35
Daniel537 Dec 2012 #36

Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 11:53 PM

1. Oh how awful!

Her response is so eloquent and kindly written. Why in the world was she fired for that?!!!!

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:03 AM

5. Probably the guy called up and demanded they get rid of her.

Television execs still assume that if ONE viewer complains, it means 20% of their audience agrees with the complaint.

It's why a handful of callers got "The Smothers Brothers Show" thrown off of CBS, and did the same thing to "Lou Grant" fifteen years later.

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 04:37 AM

14. i think her employers need an earful until they reinstate her

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 03:29 PM

34. Exactly!

Both of the posts I read in the article are well written and show a lot of respect to the person to which she is responding.

I particularly loved how well written and informative her post about African American women's hair grows up rather than down and that she chooses not to use straighteners etc. to get that more European look.

As smart and articulate as she is I hope she'll have no problems finding a new job. Some national news organization should make her an offer.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 11:56 PM

2. So she broke a rule that doesn't exist, wasn't written down and she wasn't briefed on

I hope that she gets her job back

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:01 AM

3. Problem is, the station is in Shreveport-and she "forgot her place", which still matters there.

n/t.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 06:11 PM

37. What an awful expression

I appreciate you're simply reiterating it : not saying it.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #37)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 09:28 PM

38. Only posted it because there's no better way to illustrate the mindset.

n/t.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:01 AM

4. Sounds like management had it in for her.

Her response to that viewer was faaaaar more civil than I would have been, and very professional. And the scumbag trash they call management at that TV station fired her over this.

That manager who wrote the pinkslip should be tarred-and-feathered.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:11 AM

6. She's smart and beautiful and they fired her over THAT ???

?6

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Response to BlueJazz (Reply #6)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 01:00 PM

25. +



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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:19 AM

7. That was truly a PERFECT response

and she gets fired.

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Response to RedCappedBandit (Reply #7)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:29 AM

9. Obviously, this guy wasn't use to black people or women NOT deferring to him.

He probably expected her to head straight out for the wig shop.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:22 AM

8. Is she a union member?

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:35 AM

10. OK, I think I've got it

If you're a white woman, it's okay to go on a hysterical tirade on the air with a PRIVATE e-mail conversation she was having with a man who suggested that her being overweight wasn't a good example for girls. (Whether you believe he was out of line or not, it was not a public issue until she made it public.)

But if you're a black woman who chooses not to use damaging chemicals on your hair, it's NOT okay to give a calm, rational answer about it to someone on a PUBLIC Facebook page.

No racism there. None at all.

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Response to lbrtbell (Reply #10)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:54 PM

23. Other than the "hysterical" part(the guy who dissed the white newswoman's weight WAS out of line)

I'm with you.

I suspect the white newswoman would back the black woman on this, though...it's the same issue-efforts by those who see themselves as "the dominant" group to force others to conform to THEIR arbitrary standards.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 02:29 AM

11. She was fired for this reply?

Seriously?



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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 02:30 AM

12. Law suit for sure

It's the stations fault if they don't have a policy against responding, and even if they do..

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 04:33 AM

13. i complemented the postal clerk at my USPS when she cut her fro short.

and after watching chris rock's good hair. we should support NATURAL BLACK HAIR.

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Response to pansypoo53219 (Reply #13)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 06:31 AM

17. I love the natural look too.. I so wish that Melissa Harris-Perry would release her tortured locks

I know it costs a lot to have the braids she has, but it is not a very flattering style for her facial structure & hairline..

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 05:02 AM

15. WTF?????

I'm a pro-natural hair woman

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 05:13 AM

16. she only got fired. half the black population of michigan was put under dictatorship & we barely

 

heard a peep about it.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #16)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 07:09 AM

18. Ouch

Perspective is a funny thing sometimes.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #16)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:56 PM

24. A lot of people here spoke out against the Michigan municipal coup law-wasn't it repealed?

I was one of those.

Posting this wasn't cherry-picking.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #16)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 01:44 PM

32. Click on the links on the footer of my posts nt

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 07:51 AM

19. She got fired for that?

She was a) right and b) plenty polite.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 08:10 AM

20. I hope she sues their socks off!

..

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 08:20 AM

21. Frickin' unacceptable.

Now, I guess it's possible that this Vascocu fellow meant no real harm(though I didn't know about his last statement until just a couple minutes ago, which IS pretty damn insensitive & ignorant to say the least.), but Mrs. Lee's responses were concise & polite(she deserves some kudos for that. I might not have been so polite myself.), and KTBS had absolutely NO reason to fire her. NONE.

I do hope she gets her job back(or at least gets a job at another station. In fact, that might be the better outcome in this case.), because she did nothing wrong. Nada.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 10:56 AM

22. a newsperson's HAIR is not something "that i think looks good on tv." ?

OK look, THIS is what's wrong with the world. I am so F'ing glad my life's half over because it's pitiful how lost we all are, I am disappointed over and over and over every day by people.

" if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . ." That's the most offensive bullshyt I've seen all day.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 01:01 PM

26. ... KTBS said in a statement that Lee’s termination was “not because of her appearance or defending

her appearance,” but because she violated a company policy:

If harsh viewer comments are posted on the station’s official website, there is a specific procedure to follow. Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure.


In an appearance on CNN’s “Starting Point” this morning, Lee said she has “yet to see this policy.” She said she has asked the station to see the policy and was told that “there isn’t anything written down” ...

http://www.mediabistro.com/tvspy/ktbs-fires-meteorologist-rhonda-lee-for-violating-social-media-policy_b73061

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #26)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 01:27 PM

29. If it's not written down, it's not much of a policy and it would be difficult to know the

specific procedure that you are expected to follow. It's really hard to enforce or defend a non-written policy.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 01:02 PM

27. Her response was perfect

I hope she sues the station

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 01:13 PM

28. Sounds like an unfortunate misunderstanding

that got out of hand. Sounds like Emmitt Vascocu, while perhaps not consciously racist, was unconsciously so and that led Miss Lee to regard it as a jab at her ethnicity. If I was Mr. Vascocu I would at least call the station on her behalf and ask them to rehire Miss Lee.
Beyond that, I hope MSNBC picks her up.

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Response to Shankapotomus (Reply #28)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 01:33 PM

30. If Mr V was not consciously racist, he still was sexist. She didn't represent his vision of

the perfect white woman? Send a letter to the station! It galls me to no end that this shit is still going on. The fact that a news station would even allow such comments to remain on its public forum is itself odd. Of what use is some man's comment on the appearance of a newscaster? Really? I would think that such comments might be reviewed by mgmt to see if a lot of people have some strange reaction to one of their employees, but to allow such things to remain on a public website? Very odd.

It's also very odd that the station seems to suggest it's fine that its employees be subjected to anyone's and everyone's sexist/racist/baseless comments without allowing them to rationally reply to those comments. Her very calm explanation of her hair could have represented one of those "teachable moments" this country so sorely needs. Instead, she gets fired.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 01:44 PM

31. where do i sign the petition

to reinstate her? wow.that is infuriating.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 01:44 PM

33. .

Update: "She Was Fired for Continuing to Violate Company Procedure"

Randy Bain, KTBS news director issued this statement late Tuesday:

Typically this station does not comment on personnel matters, but due to the publicity and interest about this issue, the station has included the following statement.

On November 28, 2012, KTBS dismissed two employees for repeated violation of the station’s written procedure. We can confirm that Rhonda Lee was one of the employees. Another employee was a white male reporter who was an eight year veteran of the station. The policy they violated provided a specific procedure for responding to viewer comments on the official KTBS Facebook page. Included is an email that was sent to all news department employees informing them of this procedure. This procedure is based on advice from national experts and commonly used by national broadcast and cable networks and local television stations across the country.

Unfortunately, television personalities have long been subject to harsh criticism and negative viewer comments about their appearance and performance. If harsh viewer comments are posted on the station’s official website, there is a specific procedure to follow.

Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure.



http://mije.org/richardprince/fired-over-facebook-posting#KTBS

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 03:32 PM

35. Someone should offer her another job, while she looks into her legal options.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 06:04 PM

36. Racist pricks.

Louisiana, not the least bit surprising. Somethings never change.

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