Apparently, it’s pretty hard out here for a black woman trying to make it in this world as a meteorologist. Rhonda Lee has learned this lesson over and over again in her career as a journalist. Most recently she learned that in addition to her race, her hair was another point of contention from a Facebook user. Her response to the racially offensive statement eventually led to Lee being fired from KTBS, the ABC affiliate station in Shreveport, Louisiana.
It all started on October 1, when Emmit Vascocu commented on KTBS’ Facebook page, questioning the station’s choice to let Lee report the weather with a short afro. Here’s what he had to say:
“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).”
As someone who works for a black women’s website, I can say that these comments are not uncommon. When people are afforded anonymity through the internet, some very hateful, often racist things are stated. But just because you work for the media, doesn’t mean you have to just shut up and take the abuse. So in defense of herself and her hair, Rhonda Lee responded to Vascocu, very politely if you ask me.
“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.”
The conversation should have ended there; but Vascocu responded with this:
“. . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if you’ve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . .”
Do I really have to break down everything that’s wrong with the logic above? Is accepting a classist, societal station the same as accepting and embracing the natural, genetic combinations that make us appear the way we do? I think not. Moving on. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time, a viewer used the station’s Facebook page to address what they felt was a racial “issue.”