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Fired for defending her hairstyle on Facebook; Ex-KTBS meteorologist Rhonda Lee: 'Other people are given platforms, I was given a pink slip'
December 12th, 2012
09:42 AM ET

Fired for defending her hairstyle on Facebook; Ex-KTBS meteorologist Rhonda Lee: 'Other people are given platforms, I was given a pink slip'

Could you lose your job for defending yourself on Facebook? Rhonda Lee says she was fired from her job as meteorologist for KTBS in Shreveport, Louisiana because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station's Facebook page. Lee, who keeps her hair short and natural, received a comment on the page from a viewer who didn’t like her hairstyle. Lee’s response was followed by her termination. Lee joins “Starting Point” live from Dallas to talk more about it.

This was the first time Lee says someone has commented on her looks on a Facebook page, but it isn’t the first time that she’s heard ever a comment on her hair. “I’ve even had a news director once say that my hair was too aggressive for Sacramento, so I wasn’t even allowed to interview at that point” she says. “It’s been an interesting journey with my hair.”

According to KTBS, Lee violated the social media procedure of the station by responding to the viewer's comment. Lee says she was not even aware of the policy at the time. She simply thought she needed to respond to the remark that was addressed to her in particular. "Racial comments can be very sensitive," she says, but she didn't consider her topic controvercial at all.

Soledad O'Brien relates Lee's experience to that of Wisconsin reporter Jennifer Livingston, who was criticized about her weight by a viewer earlier this year. She responded to it on air and her station rallied around her while others cheered her on. O'Brien asks whether Lee could have used this opportunity to launch a similar conversation. Lee says Livingston's experience came to mind, but her "first response was education." "I feel like I was being punished for defending myself," Lee says. "Whereas other people are given platforms, I was given a pink slip instead."

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  1. Reginald Hoiness

    In ancient civilizations, women's hair was often elaborately and carefully dressed in special ways. Women coloured their hair, curled it, and pinned it up in a variety of ways. They set their hair in waves and curls using wet clay, which they dried in the sun and then combed out, or else by using a jelly made of quince seeds soaked in water, or curling tongs and curling irons of various kinds.

    May 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mario

    What a victim. Wow, take some responsibility.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Tony G

    What corporate America gets away with astonishes me, just like the latest penalty handed to the that banking monster money laundering for Mexican drug lords and AL-Quada terroist gettting a slap on the wrist , they do what ever they want no matter how criminal ,this is a American tradtion the powerfully rich engage in acts that are detramental to America's image and yet very little is done about it ,no way should this firing had a occured and probally will be swept under the curb unless someone reputable steps up in her defense.Years of struggling for equality and the scales are still unbalanced , plain and simple we are all humans and should be treated as such and not less.

    December 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Gregory Haley md

    where was your warning or counselling over this silliness first?! unconscionable!!!!!

    December 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Val

    I am grateful that this subject is getting the platform it deserves. We have suffered in silence for fear of the "pinks slip" long enough. Let them fire is time for us to rise beyond the need to be employed by the ones who wish to deny us our voice!

    December 15, 2012 at 4:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Wind

    After reading about this story on another website, I am EXTREMELY shocked that they (the station), are even going through with this, The policy quoted by the station has yet to be produced when asked by Ms. Lee to produce the document for evaluation. The station told her: "she told CNN that she never knew the rule existed, and had yet to see the policy which she was told “isn’t written down”–a curious explanation, given the email justification KTBS is providing as evidence Lee was provided notice of the rule."!!!!!!!
    Furthermore, after reading Rhonda Lee's response, I was amazed that the station would even consider firing her with all of the bad publixity they will/are receiving after one actually examines Rhonda's email, laughably turned over to media as justification for the fire: "“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.”

    IF EVER THERE WAS A MORE GRACEFUL COMMENT! I think Rhonda Lee should've written speeches for BUSH!!!!! These people fouled up MISERABLY, and I think we, as their consumers and target audience, should let them know what we think! I live in NYC, but hatemail from anyway will put the pressure on the company and make them sweat!!!!
    If you want to read the article yourself: ENJOY!!!!

    December 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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