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Del Sandeen

(Another) Black Hair Controversy: Rhonda Lee's Firing

By December 14, 2012

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In case you haven't already heard, Rhonda Lee, a meteorologist at a Shreveport, Louisiana television station, was fired recently for reportedly responding to a social media comment that a viewer made about her hair. (You can see pictures of Ms. Lee and read more of the story here.) It seems that the station's policy is not to engage the public via social media, especially when the topic may be controversial. However, some people are wondering if Ms. Lee was actually fired because she violated station policy or because her hair doesn't fit the typical "newswoman look," which is "safe" but very often, well, boring.

Since I only know the details as they've been reported, I can't say much on how justified or not this is. But I can have my opinion on how natural hair is (still) too often viewed in this society. The commenter wondered if Ms. Lee has cancer since she wears her hair short. Unfortunately, this is just one misconception, and it's not even one of the worst. Other uninformed people view women who choose to wear their hair short and natural as:

  • Lesbian
  • Depressed and/or
  • Confused

I can hardly believe it's almost 2013 with these attitudes floating around!

If you've ever been subjected to any of these misconceptions, then you probably understand. And I understand if you were upset that someone just assumed you were a sad, gay, bewildered cancer patient! It can be very hard to respond politely to ignorance.

Yet, that's what Ms. Lee did. Just as the commenter has his opinion that her hair doesn't look "good on tv," I have my opinion that no one should be made to feel ashamed of how her hair naturally grows out of her own head. We don't all look the same; I think the world would be tremendously dull if we did.

More is coming out about this story and some of the details remain murky, but it's probably no surprise to many of you that a black woman wearing her natural hair on the air isn't exactly embraced by all. What a happy day it will be when that happens!

What do you think: is this mainly about hair, violating policy or a combination?


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