A TV reporter in Shreveport, La., was fired for defending her short hair following a critical viewer's "bigoted and sexist" comment on the station's Facebook page.
Rhonda A. Lee was dismissed from her post as meteorologist from KTBS-TV after one viewer took her to task for looking like "a cancer patient." Now, a petition on causes.com has already garnered almost 10,000 signatures demanding Lee, 37, be rehired by KTBS.
"Rhonda Lee deserves to have her job back," the petition argues. "Her eloquent response to the bigoted and sexist remarks of viewer Emmitt Vascocu were warranted. Employers such as KTBS-TV should stand by their on-air talent when they are verbally attacked based on their looks, values or merit."
Vascocu's comments were made on the KTBS-TV Facebook page.
"the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady," he wrote in an Oct. 1 post. "the onlt [sic] 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."
The post sat idle for days without a response from the station, which serves a market of around 200,000. The Facebook page has more than 31,000 likes. Instead of letting the comment disappear into the Internet, Lee tried a more diplomatic approach.
"I am sorry you don't like my ethnic hair," she wrote in response, after a brief introduction. "And no I don't have cancer. 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," she wrote. "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," Lee wrote.
"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," she continued
"Conforming to one standard isn't what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that," Lee concluded.
KTSB told Lee she violated the station's "unofficial social media policy."
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