In 2012, meteorologist Rhonda Lee made national headlines after she was fired from her job at a television station in Louisiana for defending herself on Facebook against racist comments about her decision to wear her natural hair on camera. Yesterday, she announced that WeatherNation, The Weather Channel’s biggest competitor, hired her as an on-air meteorologist.
Lee’s story received attention when several viewers left ugly comments on Shreveport, Louisiana-based KTBS’s Facebook page about the meteorologist wearing her natural hair, as opposed to a wig, or longer hair.
One of the comments can be seen below:
“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.
I’m 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 a male have waste long hair do the news what about that?”
In spite of the commenter’s abuse of the English language, which in itself is indicative of his level of intelligence, Lee responded with a level of grace and decorum that can only be applauded:
Hello Emmit- I am the “black lady” to which you are referring.My name is Rhonda Lee. Nice to meet you.
I am sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I am a non-smoking,
5’3, 121lbs, 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 thanks for watching.”
KTBS decided to fire Lee and another reporter, which they made sure to stress was a “white male”, for violating the station’s social media policy, which instructs employees to ignore complaints or contact the company’s ombudsman.
In addition to suing KTBS over her termination, Lee also has a pending lawsuit against one of her former employers, KXAN-TV in Austin, TX as she claims she was “repeatedly subjected to crude and insensitive remarks about her race.”
She is set to begin her new job in Colorado in the next few weeks. We applaud her for taking a stand against the still prevalent occurences of racism.