Black Meteorologist Rhonda Lee, from KTBS-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana, was fired for responding to what some have labeled racist comments posted by viewers on the station’s Facebook page. The news station has a pretty active Facebook page where viewers can leave feedback about current news stories. However, one male commenter was more concerned about the way Ms. Lee wore her hair than her delivery of the weather.
“the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady. the one waist lly 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 bout letting someone a male havong hair to do the news. what about that.”
Now, I’m not sure if this particular Facebook commenter was suggesting that it would be better for a man with long hair to do the newscast or not. If that was the point of the comment, then he was making absolutely no sense. However, what I do know is that the comment, while in poor taste, was not necessarily racist. If anything, it was sexist. In this country, women of all races are ridiculed for how short, tall, fat, or thin they are. This attack on the way Moore has chosen to wear her hair is just another example of how women are objectified for not fitting a certain aesthetic. Clearly this man had an ideal of what a woman should look like…and it’s not Rhonda Lee the Meteorologist.
Oh…and someone at KSLA apparently ‘liked’ the comment so much they showed it…by ‘liking’ the status on Facebook. It stands to reason that the news station Lee worked for not only allows ridiculous comments to stay posted, but they support ridiculous comments directed to their employees by viewers. Classy.
Another inflammatory comment (that is definitely racist) came from Kenny Moreland, who was upset that the winners of the annual ‘Three Minute Smile’ contest were all “people of color.” He said, “Not to start any trouble, because I think that the annual “Three Minute Smile” is a great function and I love to see kids to happy. Am I the only one that has noticed that this year, all the kids, lets say, are people of color? This is Channel 3, no KSLA, the “Project Pride” network, that might as well be part of the BET channel. Did KTBS slip up on a news story, and owe S’port’s criminal mayor Cedric, a favor? Seems like some racism going on to me. Just saying…”
First, any time someone starts out with “not to start any trouble, but…” you know they mean to start something. Second, that was a clear case of racism; just not the kind that Mr. Moreland was speaking about.
For her part, Meteorologist Lee responded to both comments with class and grace. To the first one about her hair, she replied, “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″, 121lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.” Lee goes on to talk about the history of natural hair and how she intends for her hair to be an inspiration for others to be comfortable being themselves; natural hair and all.
To Mr. Moreland’s comment, Lee responded, “I’m not sure I understand your comment…this is Channel 3 not KSLA…”What are you trying to say?”…The children were picked at random. So there goes your theory that they are selected for their color. I would like to think that it doesn’t matter who the child is. If you truly just want to see the kids happy you message had a funny way of showing it.”
Sure, her last comment may have been snarky, but it was definitely warranted and she remained professional. If Mr. Moreland likes to see kids happy, like he claimed, then what difference does the race of the kids make?
Officially, the station fired Rhonda Lee because she broke a month-old verbal rule regarding social media policy. The rule was unveiled during a meeting, which Lee did not attend (apparently, she wasn’t required to). There is some shady business going on behind her firing because she wasn’t suspended or given an official written warning…just fired. Usually, unless a policy is in writing, it’s debatable whether an employee can be fired for violating ‘said’ policy (literally).
Do you think both comments were racist, or just one? Should she have been fired for speaking up? And what’s with the station ‘liking’ the comment posted about Moore’s hair?