Oh, no they didn’t!
I had to do a double take earlier today after I read about a black TV meteorologist in Shreveport, La., who got fired for responding to a racial remark on Facebook.
Guess what sparked the fateful email?
The TV personality’s closely-cropped natural hairstyle.
Unbelievable, right? Here’s what Richard Prince’s Journal-isms’ reported about the social media discussion that led to Rhonda Lee’s losing her job:
“On Oct. 1, a viewer identified as Emmitt Vascocu wrote, ‘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).’
Lee replied the same day, ‘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.
Vascocu replied that Lee was right to be proud of who she is and that he is not a racist, but ". . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . .’"
C’mon now. Even if Lee violated her company’s social media policy, an exception should be made in this instance. As someone who’s been there, it’s hard to sit back and let people criticize you because of what grows out of your head naturally.
We’ve come a long way from the days when black women in corporate America were afraid to wear their hair braided or in a short afro for fear of hurting their careers. Although most black women on TV news, still favor straight styles, every so often you’ll see someone rocking a ‘fro or maybe long braids the way Melissa Harris-Perry does on MSNBC. You'd probably see even more if TV personalities weren't so scared of getting the kind of negative attention that Lee got.
“It's ridiculous that the simple act of wearing your hair the way it grows from your scalp can not only solicit negative commentary, but the stereotypes that the person is 'rebellious', 'sick', 'depressed', etc.,” said Nicki Walton, founder of curlynikki.com, a site helps black women learn how to deal with their in its natural state.
“For the textured woman conforming to a straight hair beauty ideal, hair becomes the center of one's agenda,” continued Walton who’s also the author of “Better than Good Hair” (Harper Collins, 2013). “She was serving as a powerful role model to young (and old) Black women because the more these positive images are seen in our everyday lives, at work on TV, etc., the more it will become mainstream. “
Walton's right. This was a teachable moment. Personally, I think Lee responded well given the level of ignorance that the viewer spouted. Something tells me that in the days ahead, the former KTBS employee is going to get a lot of time to share more of her views on this subject.