A Louisiana TV station has defended its decision to fire a Black meteorologist, Rhonda Lee, insisting that she repeatedly violated company policy by responding to comments on its Facebook page.
Lee first spoke out on the Facebook page of KTBS-TV in October when a viewer 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, I’m not sure if she is a cancer patient,” he continued, “but still it’s not something myself that I think looks good on TV.”
Lee responded by saying, “I am very proud of my African American ancestry which includes my hair… 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.”
When Lee reported the incident to her boss, she was told to refer any future controversial comments to the station managers, as opposed to answering them herself.
Yet, weeks later when a viewer asked why all of the children in one of the station’s giveaway segments “are people of color,” Lee responded again informing the viewer that the children were picked at random.
KTBS-TV then fired Lee and Chris Redford, a White male reporter, allegedly for the same reasons.
Lee, who claims she was fired for defending herself, has received support from thousands of viewers on Facebook who have begun to circulate a petition to get her re-hired.
The station released a statement saying, “Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences, if her behavior continued,” the statement explained. “Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure.”