Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Hairy Issue!



One of my friends on Facebook shared this story with me yesterday...Unfortunately..I was busy working on another post...

Apparently this beautiful woman answered a racist twit on her station's Facebook page who criticized her short hairstyle....and has lost her job because of it. I read her answer to him...there was nothing vulgar or disrespectful about it...and yet she was fired.

Rhonda Lee, a meterologist (Weather Girl) was terminated from her position at KTBS 3 News, an ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La., after responding to racially charged remarks about her short natural hairstyle. The exchange between Lee and a KTBS viewer happened back in October on KTBS 3 News’ Facebook page, where a viewer, Emmitt Vascocu, posted a comment that referred to Lee as the "black lady that does the news" and suggested that she should "wear a wig or grown some more hair."

Ms.Lee responded to Vascocu's comment at length on the Facebook thread, saying, "I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer," Lee wrote. "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."

In the end, Mr.Vascocu apologized to Lee via Facebook and reportedly called KTBS’s station manager to express his regret as well.

However, in the wake of all the publicity surrounding Ms.Lee's firing, KTBS has issued a statement making it clear that they do not typically comment on personal matters, but felt that due to the interest surrounding the issue, it has decided to speak out. Here is KTBS' official statement:

 On November 28, 2012, KTBS dismissed two employees for repeated violation of the station’s written procedure. We can confirm that Rhonda Lee was one of the employees. Another employee was a white male reporter who was an eight year veteran of the station. The policy they violated provided a specific procedure for responding to viewer comments on the official KTBS Facebook page. Included is an email that was sent to all news department employees informing them of this procedure. This procedure is based on advice from national experts and commonly used by national broadcast and cable networks and local television stations across the country. Unfortunately, television personalities have long been subject to harsh criticism and negative viewer comments about their appearance and performance. If harsh viewer comments are posted on the station’s official website, there is a specific procedure to follow. Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure.

Rhonda Lee tells a different story....I happened to catch her on CNN yesterday and she told Soledad O'Brien..-

 "I have yet to see this policy. Upon my termination I asked, 'Could I see it?' and I was told, 'No,'" Lee told CNN. "I pled for my job again just this past Friday and asked to see the policy and was told that there isn't anything written down."

So basically, Ms. Lee was let go for violating a policy that in actuallity, does not exist!!


KTBS provided Soledad O'Brien with an email that was issued to the staff on Aug. 30, 2012, that outlines how employees should respond to Facebook complaints from viewers. In short, employees are encouraged not to respond, but if they do, the "only proper response" is to provide the viewer with the contact info for a designated staffer that can help with any pressing issues.

Rhonda Lee told CNN that she never saw the email, but that she feels as though she is being harshly punished for defending herself.

I recall an  incident just a few months ago where a white female reporter was harshly criticized for being too heavy by a viewer and she got on Television and eloquently defended herself.. She was praised on talk shows and news reports across the nation... While Ms. Rhonda Lee was fired for violating a phantom policy!

Hmmmmm... Definitely a double standard....Racism??, Sexism?? I don't know....but if it looks like a duck and waddles like a duck....

19 comments:

George S. said...

She used the official FB page of the news station to respond personally to this man....uuhhh???....this is a "no-brainer".....that's a big NO NO!!

Fortunately she didn't write anything that would've enabled a lawsuit!!

Now, did she or didn't she receive that memo???.....a check if office computers and servers would answer that for SURE!!

I also notice she's not threatening a lawsuit for wrongful termination??.....that's VERY telling!

Zulu said...

Doesn't matter where she responded. She can still sue. I'm sure she will. And they will probably settle. Racist damage already done though...

George S. said...

Got my doubts....for her position, I bet she signed at least ONE contract of employment that speaks DIRECTLY to this type of scenario. She is a visible representative of the news station...she is not permitted to act as she pleases when responding to viewer comments.
The man was IGNORANT, not necessarily racist. She educated him about our hair, and he eventually apologized...

It's possible she may reach a settlement. She better hope she didn't sign anything associated with this policy.

Tiffany said...

WHAT??HUH? If she were white, they would have not fired her. They would have praised her, defended her and gave her a raise! C'mon brother. George S. Your killin me.

Vanessa said...

Recently, a white female newscaster was insulted by a viewer regarding her weight. She went on the air to respond to the viewer-- yes, given air time!-- and was applauded for standing up to bullying. That's what they called it-- bullying. Keith brought this point up in his last paragrah I believe...

Zulu said...

Thank you ladies!

George S. said...

In the case of Jennifer Livingston (bullied because of weight), she did respond on air. I conclude she was granted this permission AFTER station management was provided with her remarks PRIOR to going on air.

Unless I misread something, Ms. Lee opted to respond without consulting with anyone at the station responsible for Marketing and/or Public Affairs.

The issue is not the "what", but rather the "how".

When Ms. Lee responded, she was in effect responding on behalf of the ENTIRE staff of the news station. What she said/wrote specifically was obviously correct and proper, as it resulted in her receiving an apology from this man. BUT....she never afforded ANY management staff an opportunity to examine and discuss said response with Ms. Lee BEFORE putting it out there "over the STATIONS FB page"

I lived in Shreveport in the late 70's....that man wasn't being racist....folks down there will be CRYSTAL CLEAR when they are truly being racist.

I think the station may offer her job back, but she will need to acknowledge that how she chose to handle this could have jeopardized some business dealings for the station.

This is America folks!.....the ALMIGHTY DOLLAR is not black.....it's not white.....IT'S GREEN!!

That's all anybody really cares about.

Zulu said...

Oh quite wrong you are George S. Wall Street made record profits under President Obama and they spent a billion to get him out. It is all about RACE AND WITHIN RACE IS ECONOMICS. Don't you ever forget it because as soon as you do, they gonna get YOU TOO

Lisa said...

Preach Zulu!

Halo said...

Tell it!

Angie B. said...

So it's a social media network - you know where people, usually those that are a part of the company, interact with consumers of those programs. Her answer was on point and polite and she did not deserve to be fired for it. Some people will defend white supremacy to the end. Black people and their "house negro" mindsets smh...

Toni said...

She was fired for responding to the commenter about her hair! According to the company's policy about their usage of social media sites. Sad part is, this company missed an opportunity for a teachable moment to their viewers. Should she have violated their policy, NO, but to be fired for educating a viewer is stupid on the part of that company.

sunflower said...

Strange . . . another meterologist was "chastised" about her weight via social media. HER response was similar to Ms. Lee's and her station fully supported her. Oh . . . I forget . . . the rules are different for non-whites. Her response was polite, professional and on point, whether her station supports her response or not. Sometimes you need to stand your ground. Not responding to ignorant people gives sanction to further inappropriate comments and actions. People need to know when they are offensive so they are less likely to continue the behavior.

Samuel Bastion said...

Black reporter defends herself, gets fired. White reporter defends herself a few months ago about bullying, gets spot on the news to defend herself, gets more fame and she's backed by her station. System of racism/ white supremacy. Instead of applauding the sister for fighting racism, as usual you sheep negroes fall right in line and talk down on her like she did something wrong. I support her 110%. Taking a stand against foolishness and blatant racism and losing her job is more honorable than letting someone demean her and just taking it so she can keep a job. She will bounce back. I swear Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X was right about some of you mfs. You love the state youre in. Afraid to ruffle Massa's feathers. Some of ya'll need that Nat Turner treatment. If you're not willing to stand up to bs, keep your mouth's closed and just bend over and take it when it happens to you.

George S. said...

I am not a "sheep negro" if you are refferring to me...I am just stating that she did violate the company's policy....She shouldn't have posted on their Facebook page..That's all I'm saying.

I am not defending white supremacy either...Again just stating the FACTS folks!

George S. said...

For your information...I happen to know "Keith" , the writer of this blog personally... He has always been a troublemaker and a rabble rouser...Which is not a bad thing..He makes people think...But he tends to be racially sensitive, just like most of you at times..I still consider him a friend..I'm bettin half of you don't even know him!

Angie B. said...

What has knowing him got to do with anything? George S This is about YOU! And for your information...I was in kintergarden with Keith..I knew his Grandmother and Grandfather..So I think I've known him longer than YOU..and he was not a trouble maker...He was a nice quiet little boy, then.

George S. said...

We obviously knew two different "Keith's"-LOL!

Arlene said...

Wow, did I miss this!! I've known Keith since he "was a twinkle in his momma's eye!" And Angie is right. Keith was and still is a NICE guy. No better friend can be found, anywhere, at any time. And George S. is right, too. Keith likes to keep things up and going. What friends you guys are! Thanks for the banter. I enjoyed it.




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