It’s been a little over a month since Rhonda A. Lee was fired from ABC affiliate KTBS-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana for responding professionally, and ever so politely, to two racist Facebook posts written about her natural hair by viewers on the station’s page. Now that she’s had time to reflect on the incident, Lee says she would do it all over and defend herself, again. She recalls a manager at the station recommending she thank viewers for their oft-racially insensitive comments about her hair. “I remember thinking, No I’m not going to thank someone for being racist,” she says.
On whether or not things would be different if she started wearing a straight wig:
“I don’t think we would have received that first Facebook post from that viewer. He wouldn’t have had anything to talk about because, dare I say it, I would have been very status quo and looked like everyone else. But would I have done anything different with my hair, knowing the trouble I’ve gone through here in Shreveport? I went through the same trouble in my last job in Austin. That’s ever disheartening because it’s just been so hard over something that’s potentially so superficial, if we just let it be. I came to the station with my short hair and had to explain it to my viewers, which, to me, is not the biggest deal. It comes down to leadership, I feel. If the management will back you up, then you’re okay.”
About doing things differently:
“Goodness no. Not in a million years. I remember my general manager saying, the next time you get a Facebook comment like that, just thank the viewer for watching. I remember thinking, No I’m not going to thank someone for being racist. But, the man who wrote that post, Emmit Vascocu, did apologize. He is to be credited. He personally wrote me. I wrote him back and thanked him for his apology.”
You can read the rest, including Lee’s views on being called the “Rosa Parks of natural hair” over on ESSENCE.