A female meteorologist, Rhonda Lee, has been fired from the ABC affiliate in Shreveport, Louisiana (KTBS-TV) because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station's Facebook page.
In October, a viewer posted an offensive remark about Lee and her appearance on KTBS’s Facebook page. The comment included: "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” [sic].
After the comment was left on the station’s page for days without any response or moderation and after Lee claims the station refused to offer a reply to the comment at her request, Lee wrote a thoughtful and respectful response. In her comment, Lee stated, “I am the 'black lady' to which you are referring... I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair... 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.”
In November, Lee responded to a comment on KTBS’ Facebook page from a viewer complaining about a segment that feature predominantly children of color to clarify that “the children are picked at random.” She added: “I would like to think it doesn't matter who the child is.”
KTBS has stated that Lee was fired for allegedly violating a social media policy for staff members. However, Lee said that in a meeting with her supervisors, they told her the policy she violated “isn't written down, but was mentioned in a newsroom meeting (a meeting she did not attend) about a month-and-a-half prior.” Lee also claims, “There isn't anything in our employee manual talking about social media dos and don'ts.”
Lee said that initially she was told that she would be having a discussion with the station’s managers about clarifying the social media policy, but instead, allegedly without any discussion, Lee was terminated.
As a mom, I worry that actions by employers like this give girls the idea that they have to conform to a certain look to be successful. One day my daughter will want to wear her hair natural -- or maybe not -- but I want it to be her choice not her peer's. If we allow this to go on where will it stop? I want my daughter to be inspired by woman like Lee who achieve success in their fields and stand up for themselves and others.
Please join me in asking KTBS to stand with their meteorologist and return Rhonda Lee to her job.