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 Lee sporting her natural hair. Yesterday, she announced that WeatherNation hired her as an on-air meteorologist.
Rhonda Lee's saga began when several viewers left ugly comments on Shreveport, Louisiana-based KTBS' Facebook page about the meteorologist opting to wear her natural hair rather than "wear a wig or grow more hair," as one Facebook user put it.
The user in question, a man named Emmitt Vascocu, left the following comment:
the black lady that does the news is a
very nice lady.the onlt 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 mail have
waist long hair do the news.what about
Lee responded to the complaint with a professional tone and restraint rarely seen on the internet.
Hello Emmitt— 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'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.
News One goes on to quote another response Lee left on a post made by a viewer upset that the children in the television station's "Three Minute Smile" — a drive run by KTBS that lets a child "run in the toy section of Walmart for 3 minutes, grabbing whatever he/she can" — were mostly "people of color," and this was a sign of "some racism going on."
KTBS decided to fire Lee and another reporter for the station (whom they emphasized was a "white male") for violating the station's social media policy, which instructs employees to ignore complaints or tell them to contact the company's ombudsman.
In addition to suing KTBS over her firing, Lee also has a pending lawsuit against one of her former employers, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, after she says she was "repeatedly subjected to crude and insensitive remarks about her race."
Lee, who has extensive experience working in television weather at stations in Memphis, New York, Texas, and Louisiana, graduated from Kansas State University in 1997 with a degree in journalism and communication, and completed the broadcast meteorology program at Mississippi State University in 2009.
WeatherNation is The Weather Channel's main competitor, and it appears on DirecTV channel 361 as well as digital channels across the country. The weather network's broadcasts also stream live on its website.