How often do we see Black women on television (other than so-called “reality”) in recent years? Not enough. And out of those that are there, how many are actually able to sport their natural hair? It seems that entertainers are more likely to get away with it. What about in the news business?

Apparently in Shreveport, Louisiana it’s too much for the viewers that directed racist comments towards KTBS-TV’s Facebook page. African American Meteorologist Rhonda Lee, a veteran of news with more than 25 years of experience, was recently fired. The reason given was that she repeatedly violated an undocumented company policy about responding to complaints that was supposedly mentioned at a newsroom meeting. According to Daily KOS, a viewer wrote the following on KTBS’s Facebook page:

[box border="full"]“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).”[/box]

When we read Rhonda Lee’s response, we were more inclined to believe that she was fired because she’s a strong Black woman who speaks her mind than for her hair or the fact that she responded!

[box border="full"]“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.”[/box]

And she went on to say…

[box]Rhonda Lee's Response[/box]

The sad irony is that according to Mediate, after another viewer left racist comments about a charity event on the station’s web page and Facebook page, she actually brought it to the station’s attention hoping that they would remove the comments. When it was all said and done, not only did they choose to leave the viewers’ comments in place, but they removed Ms. Lee AND her comments.

Isn’t it interesting that also recently, a white broadcaster in Wisconsin named Jennifer Livingston responded on the air to criticism she received about being overweight. Not only did her employer back her up, but she was applauded all over the nation for standing up for herself. It’s sad that Ms. Lee wasn’t given the same level of support. It’s nice to hear that Ms. Livingston does indeed support Ms. Lee.

The inability for many Americans to accept natural hairstyles as acceptable in the mainstream is sad to see in 2012. Even at an HBCU, Hampton University, there is a ban on certain hairstyles for Black men. Forty years after many strong Black women traded their straightening combs for afros, women that choose to wear natural styles today are experiencing an even higher level of resistance. It may be because back then, the majority of the women who wore afros were just viewed as “young and radical.” Today, Black women from all walks of life, many of whom are professionals, are rocking natural hair.

This story is gaining momentum. We’ll see how it pans out. We hope that the issue does come to the forefront so that there can be further discussion and support for a woman’s right to choose how she wears her hair and what’s deemed acceptable, regardless of her profession. For the record, Ms. Lee, your Black is beautiful!

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