Wednesday, December 12

Meteorologist Rhonda Lee fired for defending her natural hair

Rhonda Lee
Years ago when I expressed to my family that I was going to loc my hair, my grandmother expressed great concern and outrage about it. Her exact words were, “It’s hard enough being black! Why would you want to do that! No one is going to hire you with hair like that! It's messy and looks unkempt and you will never get a good job." 

I dismissed my grandmother but her words rang in my ears and I guess to some extent I took heed to her warning and decided that if I was going to loc my hair then I would have the neatest locs in the world!  Thus, I have spent thousands of dollars maintaining the up keep of my locs. I religiously go to the hairdresser whenever I notice there is a hint of new growth. I twist and retwist each loc every spare second that I have and every partner that I have has been dragged into the routine of helping me re twist my hair for me when I don't have the time to run immediately to the hairdresser! And I secretly gloat when people stop me and tell me how "neat" my hair is and they don't even look like locs!  

So far I don't think having locs has prevented me from excelling in my career, yet I also know I work in the arts and us artsy types tend to be much more lenient and accepting of personal expression! But, I know things are a lot different for my corporate sistas, so I was surprised and yet not really surprised when I heard about meteorologist Rhonda Lee who lost her job at KTBS-TV for responding to a derogatory comment from a viewer about her natural hair.

Now just to set the record straight she was NOT fired because of her natural hair. She was fired because of a facebook post where she responded to a viewer, who posted the following message on KTBS-TV’s page:

 “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).”

She responded with the following:

“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 thanks for watching.”

Do you think that she should have lost her job, do you think this is racist? And do you think black womyn who work in the media have a responsiblity to keep up "appearances"...... does that just come with the territority? Would love to hear your thoughts! 


Shai Downey said...

How many civil and labour relations lawyers have jumped to this sistahs aid? I cannot imagine that her response violated any contractual obligations she may have had. I feel like I am being reading this article.

Anonymous said...

What?!?!?! I found her response to be quite articulate. I can't believe (well I can) that she was actually fired for responding in that manner. Does her station have some sort of policy that one shouldn't respond at all? of maybe all responses have to be vetted by the station lawyer. I can't believe that either is true. There may be more going on here than meets the eye.

For her sake I do hope that some civil and labour lawyers pick this one up and that it in for a big money touchdown.