black women

This Reporter Was fired and Can’t get a Job because of her natural hair

By  |  51 Comments


By: Stephanie Allen-Gobert

For her admirable stance of defending Black beauty, Meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired. Lee was defending her natural hair and Black kids on her station’s Facebook page. The issue went national, if any can recall when KTBS 3 News, an ABC affiliate in Shreveport, LA., fired Lee in November of 2012 after she responded to several racially insensitive messages on the station’s Facebook page.

The first Facebook post dealt with a viewer who said that she did a good job, but needed to change her hair style.

The following month, Facebook commenter Kenny Moreland criticized KTBS 3 News’ annual “Three Minute Smile” segment, which awards children a three minute shopping spree at a local Walmart . Apparently, Moreland wasn’t pleased that all of the winners were Black children. Below is his comment and Lee’s response:

Lee fired for comments

Lee says her replies got her fired, ending her 14-month stint at the station. As NewsOne previously reported, the station’s official response was that she was fired for violating its social media policy. Lee, however, says she was never made aware of such a policy and feels the station became uncomfortable with viewer complaints over her hair and her reply to the “Three Minute Smile” post. She says she has filed an EEOC complaint against the station and is in mediation to resolve her dismissal.

She has not been able to hold a TV job since and told NewsOne in an exclusive interview that her hair is still an issue-even with those who want to see her employed again.”Co-workers have had an intervention of sorts with me when I first started trying to get weather jobs,” Lee said. “They took me to lunch and told me, “You’re going to have to grow you hair out.”

She doesn’t see the point, though. Why should she have to wear a weave to deliver the weather? “I don’t know why they care,” Lee said of people offering advice on how she should deal with her job hunt. “I don’t know why anyone cares. As long at it’s well-kept and looks OK.” Lee, a member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority, had a frat brother talk to her station manager once, but it produced nothing. Another colleague hand delivered her resume to a news director at her Florida station, but she got radio silence from the Sunshine state, too. Lee even hired an agent after she lost the KTBS 3 News job, but it didn’t work out; she is on her second one now. Still, no job. Not even an interview.

Lee went to the annual NABJ conference(National Association for Black Journalists) in Orlando, Fla., last summer and caught up with some friends and colleagues who were sympathetic to her situation. “Oh, I remember you. You’re not working yet?,” Lee remembers people saying. After a week of networking at the largest stage for Black journalists, Lee still got no leads.

“I’ve had a manager once say that he loved everything about me and was seriously considering hiring me, but ‘Your hair. I can’t hire you with that hair,” she recalls him saying. That manager, who was an African-American male at a Sacramento-based station, added that her hair was “too aggressive” for his viewers.

Before Lee’s hair dramas at the Shreveport station, she was at ABC affiliate KXAN, in Austin, Texas, where she claims staff racially abused her. She has filed a discrimination lawsuit against that station as well; Lee hopes that case will be settled this summer.

For now, no one is considering Lee for a meteorologist job, but she is keeping herself sharp by reading the American Meteorological Society’s website and keeping active in the organization’s local Shreveport chapter. It has been frustrating for Lee to sit at home and watch her colleagues report the weather, but she truly feels that her struggles are serving a higher purpose. And, above all else, she does not regret posting those Facebook replies and would not change a word she wrote.



  1. Fatima

    February 10, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Longji, I disagree with you. The white supremacists set the standard for beauty in this country and black men have cosigned on it. Many black men prefer the fair-skinned, long-haired sisters because that is close to white beauty standard. Therefore, that is why black women wear these weaves because they think this is what black men like because it is as close to white as possible.

    • Rick

      February 10, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Oh, Fatima. How pitiful of you to blame Black men for your own weakness? Yes, it is true that white supremacists manipulate the standard of beauty through their constant barrage of European beauty; but, back in the ’70’s Black people rejected this concept. We wore afros and dashikis. Now, while this may have been reactionary, the current generations turn to eurocentricity is more radical and reactionary. Blonde hair, two-inch eyelashes, weaves and fake fingernails. How much money is wasted by Black women, trying to be white? The tragedy for most Black kids is: if they excel in school or speak good English, they are put down for trying to be white. This by kids whose mothers are spending thousands of dollars to try to look white. ‘Cmon Black people – we have better sense than this.

      • Yepyep

        February 11, 2014 at 1:15 am

        Rick get it together aint no black woman trying to be white a person can not change the color of their skin with just hair along. Than I guess a black man who fks outside of his race is trying to be a non black man each time he fetch an step with a woman whose of a different race if you want to go there

      • Fatima

        February 11, 2014 at 10:00 am

        Rick, I am not blaming black men totally; as I stated first, the white supremacists set the beauty standards and many black men consign on it. Women of any culture, including black women, instill the standards that are already set by the men. So if the women and children are out of line, the men are already out of line. As far as what happened back in the 70s, I came along during that era and sadly I realize all the afros and dashikis displayed were nothing more than a fad. We did not reject anything because if we did, we would still be rejecting that concept. I have never worn a weave, blonde hair, etc. nor indulged in any of the crap you laid out. In fact to prove my point about how black men reject natural sisters, I have worn my hair in either a small afro or twists. Recently, I had someone flat-iron my iron, only because I wanted to change up for a while and guess what? I get more compliments now and attention from black men than before about how much better I look. Needless to say I am not surprised.

        It really vexes me on how black women get called ‘nappy-headed hoes’ if we dare to remain natural, the way our creator made us, while at the same time we get criticized if we attempt to be beautiful for you with the weaves, eyelashes, etc. It is if we cannot win.

        I am not here to blast black men. I would like to see them take more responsibility for the problems that exist between them and black women and to realize they are sending confusing, mixed messages about how they want their women to look.

        • Yepyep

          February 16, 2014 at 10:45 pm

          So true and than brothers holler were not responsible yeah ok when a sister is keeping it real natural she suppose some type of outcast or her sexuality is questioned if she goes too short. And considering most of the black men will go for a long haired weave wearing sister first before they go for a natural hair wearing sister so they need to stop sending out their confuse messages and get their self together no one hating on the black men just letting you know sisters are checking for you first and some of you show us more often that you are not checking for a sister if she’s in natural hair state. All I can is your loss a sister will not be around if good man from any race comes along just like you brother running in droves to other races so shall us sisters black is not united so blacks folks keep lying to your self we have no unity when were discussing the least important thing hair and not unionism

  2. Sasha

    February 10, 2014 at 10:20 am

    LOVE my natural and I don’t care who might not like it. I don’t live to please ANY man or society. If my co-workers don’t like my natural, they sure keep it to themselves, LOL!! I dare one of them to say something negative, LOL!!

  3. rosebud

    February 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I can’t beleive in this day, and time that how a person wear their hair would prevent them from getting a job as long as it’s well kept for example Whoopi Goldberg.Short natural hair is worn by many in the media today.I can’t help but remember Fariah Chedayo, a black woman who reported the news on ABC who wore her hair in dreads for years, and as for as I know she’s still in the business.Re-reading her comment it sounds more of sarcasim than anything else.I suggest that she look in a larger market for a job in her line of work because her options in Louisiana are pretty much nil to say the least.

  4. s'ann

    February 10, 2014 at 11:12 am

    She was terminated for her hairstyle, are you serious! She looks beautiful! And her response wasn’t inappropriate, unless it is policy not to respond to such comments. If that was the case, that alone doesn’t warrant dismissal. Back in the day when fro’s were popular, people didn’t loose their jobs and racial tension was at its highest. I hope EEOC finds in her favor. I, too, do not like weaving. It will send a clear message to employers that you cannot terminate employees because of their hairstyles, particularly, if it is well-groomed as hers is.

    And Sasha, I love sporting my fro’ too. But I don’t always wear it because it is very long and it takes a lot of time to shape. It has to be perfect or I won’t wear it. It annoys me to no end to see a brother or sister with an unruly fro’.

  5. Barbara

    February 10, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Nature (or God) made our skin color and our hair texture. I don’t know why it’s so hard for Whites to understand that not all people have pink skin and straight hair.

    I like Louis Daye’s comment above described as “wearing a wig by force.” That’s hilarious.

    • Yocheved

      February 11, 2014 at 1:47 am

      LOL! We’re all messed up. I’m white, and I spent most of my teens trying to get a tan on my pasty skin, and getting perms or sleeping in curlers. The joke’s on me now. I’m almost 50, I have age spots on my skin from sun damage, and my hair is coming in curly – but very gray!

      It took me a while to figure out, but I finally came to the conclusion that “You can’t be hatin’ what the Good L-rd’s creatin’.”

      We all look exactly the way we’re supposed to look. G-d said so! Peace.

  6. Ann G.

    February 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

    She is absolutely beautiful with her natural hair! Maybe they want a blonde greasy long hair style, yes White folks hair is naturally greasy just like ours is naturally dry! When are White people going to get over themselves, they are nobody special except to their moms and dads.

  7. Sandra L. West

    February 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I looked at the picture that accompanied this story. Rhonda Lee is a beautiful young woman and her hair is so neat and gorgeous! What a brilliant face, so full of intelligence. I don’t see what the problem is.

    Her comments to the one who complained that the children were all children of color were mild comments, in my estimation, especially when the complaints about the color of the children were so painful to read, as painful to read as it was painful to watch in The Ben Carson Story when young Ben won an award and his teacher was not happy for him and took the stage and told his classmates that they should be ashamed to let him win, as he was poor and fatherless! What an awful thing to say to a child who had accomplished so much!

    I think that this talented, educated young woman, Ms. Lee, should move on to teaching and mentoring. I am one who loves to watch the news, all channels, but I hate watching these women in tight after-five dresses –what is that for ? –and the same hair-style, weaves, big curls hanging long and low to their breasts. This is what is actually looks like … a net-work war to see who can get the most viewers, the most male viewers, and the “bait” is not how well they deliver the daily news but the bait is TV Journalist Women clothed in colorful, beautiful, but non-professional clothes that show panty-lines and such who are told by their bosses — and their black colleagues agree — to wear this stuff and get weaves because whoever has the most Barbie Doll TV reporters gets the highest ratings … “… and we can all keep our jobs.”

    I know they all need their jobs. During the era of enslavement there was many a time when slave mothers told their crying daughters to go into the cabin with the white master and have sex with him and he would give her a warm quilt. More often than not, that quilt was raggedy. Had big holes in it. And, it seems as though some things remain the same, the “Changing Same” as the late Amiri Baraka used to call it. But at some point they, the young reporters, must know that this is an Auction Block. Those that can leave, should. Still, we must not look down on those who stay. Because we understand. We have always understood.

    I do not like watching it. Channel 13 WNET does a little better. Much more respect for female TV journalists. I feel for Ms. Lee and know that she will secure another job in another field. Another door will open for her. I, for one, will pray for it.

    • rosebud

      February 11, 2014 at 12:47 am

      Most companies have an employee hand book which stipulates rules and guide lines and if they are not followed you could be suject to termination if not followed.She said that she never got the memo regarding responding too e-mails, but it appears too me that she took sides in the matter, and being in the media you have to remain objective, and not take sides in any matter regardless of wheather someone has been racial discriminated against or not.

  8. ericaf

    February 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    The moment she filed suit, she became toxic, doesn’t matter the reason for the initial dismissal. She may never work in that business again because her name and situation is known. Forget about the hair.

    • rosebud

      February 11, 2014 at 12:53 am

      Yep, so tue she has been black listed in the media, and she probably will never work in her field again simply, because she filed a law-suit once you do that most companies will not hire you because, if they do they will feel that they are next in line.This has been in the news for at least a year now maybe longer and I’m sure most reptuable television stations nationwide has heard about this case.

    • s'ann

      February 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      The publicity probably isn’t helping her in obtaining a new job in journalism. However, if employers are rejecting her for filing an EEO complaint and it can be proven, that is grounds for retaliation.

  9. Zenith

    February 10, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    This boils down to her not be willing to play the longstanding, “White skin, straight hair is the Standard of Beauty” game. If you don’t feed into it, then you must be cut out— for fear that you will ‘infect’ others with a rejection of the tenets of white privilege. Too many people (of ALL ethnic groups and BOTH genders) are playing the game out of ignorance and/or fear (fear of losing out in employment and love opportunities).
    She is to be commended for NOT playing this game, as it is destructive to a person’s ability to look herself in the mirror. Some things are priceless– sense of self-worth IS one of those things.

    The excuse that some people use about wearing weave (i.e. women do it because they think that’s what men want) is weak, spineless and absolves people from personal responsibility of the work it takes to gain self-respect and self-acceptance. Who the F cares about attracting someone who can’t/won’t like you the way you are??? Just do not understand that kind of thinking.
    #Fluffing my BIG natural and dropping mic.

    • Fatima

      February 13, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Zenith, I disagree with your comment that some people are weak and spineless for wearing weaves because they think that is what men want. This mindset above straight hair, weaves, etc. has to do with the way both men and women are cultured from the cradle, which is something, they have no control over. They don’t even realize anything is wrong with this. The answer to it all is educating people about our history and what really has happened to us as a people, and hopefully we will pass it on to the next generations.

  10. Kristjan

    February 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    This is such a painful reminder that if you don’t look like your Anglo Saxon then you must conform in order to get ahead in this nation. I do agree with Fatima that the idea for beauty is based on the masses(white -america). Some black men and women have definitely feed into this mythological idea of beauty. This comes from the slave era where white women were put on a pedestal and made to be thought of as the Ultimate Beautiful Creature. This type of thinking raped black peoples idea of what beauty is. I feel that black men and women have drunk the Kool-Aid when it comes to this. Its hard to turn on the t.v and see the majority of our black men or with every other color woman but a black man or woman. Now don’t get me wrong there is nothing with interracial couples at all!!! IJS that when when black america sees this what types of messages does this send? If I had a dime every time I was laughed at because I had short hair and was dark skinned;I would be a millionaire.

  11. Abdul qawi

    February 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Im going to say this black plight is our plight as decendants of slaves .. White feel tho blacks accept there religion y not accept there culture of wearing hair as straight as there… Deny our selves as ppl and conform to there way of living/looking while they b us… Lol funny but there is nothing amusing when there is a war against black folk & our own is helping the oppresssor.. The End

  12. Chris40

    February 10, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    That is a nice photo of a beautiful lady!!!! I’m glad she did what she did!!!!!

  13. Pat

    February 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    This story is at least two years old.

  14. lester

    February 11, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Its not just the hair. Its the law suit. She is being black balled

  15. Yepyep

    February 16, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    This article may be old but these type of stories are rising up more and more and its time we tell them to fluck off and mind their own or go and cut off their fake weaves they wear and major implants they idol because they need to get over their selves and worry about their own azzes. She has natural beauty something most of them need or buy when they use plastic surgery IJS

  16. Tonya

    May 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    As a black woman I’ve worn my hair in many different hairstyles. When I wear a curly afro men and women of other races are constantly complementing me but not black men. The moment I straightened it black men complimented me. I wear my hair for me as all women should. If I wear a weave it’s because I want to switch it up not because I’m trying to be white.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *