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Old 12-13-2012, 10:49 AM   #1
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Your Hair is Short. Do You Have Cancer?

Are you a woman?

Do you work in television?

Do you wear your hair short?

Does that mean you have cancer?

Wait...WHAT?? Read on...

Quote:
A black female meteorologist has been fired from the ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La., she told Journal-isms, because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station's Facebook page.


KTBS-TV's action against Rhonda Lee followed a previous response by Lee to a viewer who questioned whether she should wear her short Afro, suggesting she put on a wig or grow more hair.


On Oct. 1, a viewer identified as Emmitt Vascocu 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. 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)."


Lee replied the same day, "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.



"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. 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. 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.

"Conforming to one standard isn't what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that.

"Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching."


Lee messaged Journal-isms on Saturday, "I had a meeting with my ND [news director] and GM [general manager] Friday trying to get my job back. They told me the policy I violated isn't written down, but was mentioned in a newsroom meeting about a month-and-a-half prior. A meeting I didn't attend. So when I asked what rule did I break there isn't anything to point to.


"The week I was brought in to discuss [the] last post, I was told by my ND that there were a few unclear things in the policy and that we were going to have a meeting with George Sirven, the GM about it. I was instead fired the next week — no discussion had. Sirven claims that even if a policy isn't on paper we as employees are responsible for abiding by them. There isn't anything in our employee manual talking about social media dos and don'ts. I was accountable for a rule that essentially isn't in existence."


Sirven told Journal-isms by email, "We do not comment on personnel issues out of respect for the employee and the station."
Forget about race. How sexist is it to suggest a woman is unattractive and must be a cancer patient because she wears her hair short? Nobody says jack if a man wears his hair close-cropped. A woman does it and she must be sick.

I guess that probably means she's a lesbian as well, huh?

And how the hell can you fire someone for breaking a"rule" you were never knew existed?
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:16 AM   #2
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Holy crap. How horrible for her!
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:35 PM   #3
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The article's been updated. The policy concerns responding to Facebook comments. Nothing to do with her race, sex, or hair. Apparently a white male reporter was let go for the same reason.

It's aggravating that Facebook commenters would leave such ignorant comments, but I think the station employees are expected to do the writer thing and ignore 'reviews'.
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:47 PM   #4
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Then the policy should be written down someplace where employees can access it, and possibly posted somewhere. She says she missed the meeting it was mentioned at. Others may have missed the meeting, or be new hires, etc.
Even if she missed the meeting, if this policy really was a new policy, people would have discussed/talked/complained about it. She would have heard something. Sure, inform her about the policy, tell her off for responding, whatever, but firing someone for a policy that they didn't know about? Management could make anything up, tell each other it's a new 'policy' and start firing.
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:52 PM   #5
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From the update:

Quote:
On November 28, 2012, KTBS dismissed two employees for repeated violation of the station’s written procedure. We can confirm that Rhonda Lee was one of the employees.

[snip]

The policy they violated provided a specific procedure for responding to viewer comments on the official KTBS Facebook page. Included is an email that was sent to all news department employees informing them of this procedure. This procedure is based on advice from national experts and commonly used by national broadcast and cable networks and local television stations across the country.

[snip]

Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued.
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:51 PM   #6
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So the station's policy is its fine with them if their reporter is singled out for ignorant remarks because she doesn't conform to some dope's standard of beauty who doesn't get it a close-cropped Afro is not an indicator of cancer, but if she explains why she chooses to wear her hair in such a unconventional way, she's out of line.

I have a problem with this. Others do too.
Quote:
Richard Prince notes that Lee filed a discrimination lawsuit against another former employer, Austin's KXAN, in May of this year, claiming that, among other things, she was "repeatedly subjected to crude and insensitive remarks about her race." Later, KXAN fired Lee. At the time of the KXAN suit, Lee was already at KTBS, where she ended up working for about 11 months before being fired a second time.

There's no word yet on whether Lee plans on bringing a lawsuit in this latest case, but in the meantime, the question becomes this: At what point does a company's "stay mum" social-media policy become injurious to an employee's sense of dignity? And if an employee does respond against its company's wishes, should level, reasoned responses like Lee's merit termination?


Regardless, the Lee story seems to be further evidence that many companies still have no idea how to navigate the complexities of social media, despite obviously drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to the idea that social media is an integral part of success nowadays. The result is a company getting a Facebook page in order to facilitate community engagement while simultaneously hampering its employees from engaging even slightly with that community. Essentially, they're stripping all the "social" out of "social media," and then firing employees who push back at all against their archaic policy.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Satsya View Post
From the update:

Quote:
On November 28, 2012, KTBS dismissed two employees for repeated violation of the station’s written procedure. We can confirm that Rhonda Lee was one of the employees.

[snip]

The policy they violated provided a specific procedure for responding to viewer comments on the official KTBS Facebook page. Included is an email that was sent to all news department employees informing them of this procedure. This procedure is based on advice from national experts and commonly used by national broadcast and cable networks and local television stations across the country.

[snip]

Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued.
That link about an email is weird. It doesn't take me anywhere that mentions an email. Maybe they updated their update?

They mention a "redacted copy of an internal staff memo dated August 30 that outlines the station’s social media policy". Presumably, that's an email?

I don't know, but if they don't have unalterable proof from before her complaint came out, they may be pretty screwed, imho.

OTOH, if they fired another person for non-racial social media comments, that could be proof that it's not a civil rights issue, anyway. Whether it's legal probably depends on the state, etc.


eta: oooh, I just read nighttimer's post. If she's subjected to racial harassment and can't do anything to alleviate that according to company policy, that could be a civil rights situation. I changed my mind
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:03 PM   #8
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Except that it's not as though this is a customer insulting her to her face. The Facebook page is probably, by her bosses, considered a space that only the PR guys should pay attention to.

The problem with that is that the Facebook page is maintained by her employers. Thus moderation of comments is their responsibility. No moderation makes it seems as though the station condones whatever is said.

...I think this is more a problem of the policy makers not fully understanding the internet as a platform and there still being an grey area when it comes to what's proper behavior dealing with people over the internet. Like the Gawker article says, the company seems to not quite know how to handle the mostly-uncensored public nature of Facebook. Yes, race was the issue involved in this case. But it seems as though it could just as easily be any other sort of discrimination.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:24 PM   #9
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I don't believe race per se was at issue here as far as the man who made the Facebook comment. I believe it was ignornace of race and ignorance over different types of hair. It was more an example of sexism (women are supposed to have long full fluffy hair). The man was bothered by seing her hair like that. It rubbed him the wrong way. But I don't think it was "I can't stand seeing black people wear their hair funny." Instead it was "I don't like it when women have short hair, it just looks wrong, but okay, so maybe the poor girl's got cancer."

It became an issue about race only when it became necessary to explain to the man that her hair is African not European.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:38 PM   #10
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I wish I could wear my hair short and look that good. She is absolutely gorgeous.

And I also loved her response. There was nothing snippy or mean about it, imo. It was articulate, thoughtful, educational, and inspiring. She should have gotten a raise.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:47 PM   #11
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I wish I could wear my hair short and look that good. She is absolutely gorgeous.

And I also loved her response. There was nothing snippy or mean about it, imo. It was articulate, thoughtful, educational, and inspiring. She should have gotten a raise.
I agree. She's stunning, and her response was very classy, despite how much the ignorant comment probably hurt.

And I agree with PD that this was probably just an ignorant comment by an old man who didn't know any better. The comment didn't really sound nasty. Not that that makes it better or wouldn't still hurt, however.

I have an African American friend who wears a wig. I had no idea it was a wig. It's long and wavy and looks pretty darn natural to me. That's ME being ignorant. I don't know. I don't think about it. I had no idea until she told me. She said she wears the wig b/c even though in her heart she's a natural hippie, and on the weekends goes wig-free with her short hair, she's found that wigs make other people feel more comfortable than if she went all natural. She showed me a picture of herself without the wig, and I think she's beautiful and so strong and inspiring when she doesn't wear it. I think it's sad that she does just for the comfort of other people.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:48 PM   #12
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I wish I could wear my hair short and look that good. She is absolutely gorgeous.

And I also loved her response. There was nothing snippy or mean about it, imo. It was articulate, thoughtful, educational, and inspiring. She should have gotten a raise.

I totally agree.

Meanwhile the dudes in the suits just don't know what to do with their station's own Facebook page.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nighttimer View Post
Are you a woman?

Do you work in television?

Do you wear your hair short?

Does that mean you have cancer?

Wait...WHAT?? Read on...

Forget about race. How sexist is it to suggest a woman is unattractive and must be a cancer patient because she wears her hair short? Nobody says jack if a man wears his hair close-cropped. A woman does it and she must be sick.

I guess that probably means she's a lesbian as well, huh?

And how the hell can you fire someone for breaking a"rule" you were never knew existed?
If this is all there is to the story, the station should be boycotted at the very least, and a number of management staff need a serious wake-up call and the opportunity to find new jobs. But then there's this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Satsya View Post
From the update:
Quote:
Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued.
I'm gonna hold out for Paul Harvey on this one.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:12 PM   #14
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I totally agree.

Meanwhile the dudes in the suits just don't know what to do with their station's own Facebook page.
They should put Ms. Lee in charge of it!

And from now on, I'm going to use "Meanwhile, the dudes in suits..." instead of "Meanwhile, back at the ranch...."
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:38 PM   #15
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It will be interesting to see how this firing plays out. It sounds like there's more going on than just this one incident.

But the guy who made the comment that kicked this off on Facebook is a dimwit on multiple levels. It is not her obligation to turn him on. Her job is to relate the news. Some people seem to forget that every person in front of a camera lens isn't there to give you a tingle in the nethers. And I promise, you'll get over it if you're not flooded with lust every time the picture on the screen switches to a different person.

In my opinion, she's gorgeous, but that is well beside the point.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:50 PM   #16
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I remember her from watching KXAN here in Austin. My wife and I have just stopped watching that station because they keep getting rid of anyone with actual personality and replacing them with folks who appear to be ... well, enough said.

The tipping point was when the weather guy, during one of those annoying banter moments, turned to the female anchor and said something like, "What is it with women, always late for everything?"

My wife and I were stunned, and when she emailed to complain got zero response on that point.

Perhaps it's okay for white men to offend viewers, but not black women?
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:25 PM   #17
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The tipping point was when the weather guy, during one of those annoying banter moments, turned to the female anchor and said something like, "What is it with women, always late for everything?"

My wife and I were stunned, and when she emailed to complain got zero response on that point.

Perhaps it's okay for white men to offend viewers, but not black women?
WOW. That would be writing your own pink slip in any major city. What a joke.

Yep, still a good ol' boys' club.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:08 PM   #18
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Women are all too often objectified based on nothing more than their appearance (remember the hate directed at Candy Crowley?). If Rhonda Lee had a full-blown Jackson Five Afro that would be scandalous to some viewers. If Rhonda Lee were rocking dreadlocks there would be those up in arms. She looks professional and poised to me and she should not have to explain her choice of hairstyle to the uninitiated.

The fact that she did in a firm, but patient way and the viewer acknowledged her explanation and apologized, should have been the end of it.

The television station made an issue of this, not Lee. The smart move would be to admit their policy was unclear and arbitrary and to rehire her.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:11 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by nighttimer View Post
Forget about race. How sexist is it to suggest a woman is unattractive and must be a cancer patient because she wears her hair short? Nobody says jack if a man wears his hair close-cropped. A woman does it and she must be sick.

I guess that probably means she's a lesbian as well, huh?

And how the hell can you fire someone for breaking a"rule" you were never knew existed?
The "redacted" memo refers to "complaints"—neither of the posts she responded to are "complaints." They are inquiries; and her responses were courteous, respectful, and on topic.

I hope she sues. I hope she sues, the station, the specific employees involved, and the owner.

Her response was perfect.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:12 PM   #20
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In my opinion, she's gorgeous, but that is well beside the point.
Agreed, but she's also classy.
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:07 AM   #21
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Frankly, I don't give a goddamn what my news reporter looks like. You know what I do care about?

If they're actually reporting the news.

The facebook commenter was a troll and a dick.
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:13 AM   #22
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Perhaps I am missing something but I saw the commenter as saying s/he though women looked better with long hair. They did not specify if it should hang flat or grow up and out. It is a sexist beauty norm but it is necessarily about natural hair type?

That said, firing some one for a one off Facebook comment strikes me as a serious over-reaction in any situation. Let alone this one.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:00 AM   #23
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Agreed, but she's also classy.
Definitely. I thought her response was even-handed and well said. Whatever their policy, the net's too wide to end in termination for something like this.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:19 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
Perhaps I am missing something but I saw the commenter as saying s/he though women looked better with long hair. They did not specify if it should hang flat or grow up and out. It is a sexist beauty norm but it is necessarily about natural hair type?

That said, firing some one for a one off Facebook comment strikes me as a serious over-reaction in any situation. Let alone this one.
Well, it's just so much easier for folks with a finer/not as curly texture hair to have a long hair style. The work it takes for many AA women (and others) to have long hair is a bit ridiculous to many folks whose hair it is.

That's easily understood if that hair texture is common to a person, and not thought about much by those who don't know many AA (or other) folks with that texture.

I have a guess about an Irish parallel, lol. You see a lot of long, curly hair there. I wear mine that way, too, and my hair is like what you see so much there. It's only because it's the easiest way to wear it and have it look good with my hair texture and wetness (rain there, humidity here). Lots of folks here think it must be harder to have long hair, but they just aren't familiar with that kind of hair or they aren't familiar with the weather we get here in the South.

But when it runs so deeply among racial lines, it becomes more than just not understanding, imho. Employers need to understand what is considered professional in at least the main US races. Very short natural hair is very professional with her hair type. We don't need one race having to wear wigs to keep/get a job. Or spend an incredible amount of time on their hair. There's no sense in requiring that.

eta: I'm giving the commenter the benefit of the doubt that the post was supposed to be about professionalism and not just his/her personal tastes
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:29 AM   #25
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I think natural hair looks better on most black women. But that's just my opinion.

I have a colleague at work who has started wearing her hair natural, mainly for economic reasons. I walked into her office one day, stopped dead and said 'you look just like Marsha Hunt!' Then wondered if she'd know who that is as she's a lot younger than me.... luckily she did!

But for me it may go back to when I was a kid, before the chemical straighteners and relaxers and what not. I grew up around black women that wore their hair natural. They would twist it and grip it into fantastic shapes. Or cut it into an afro.

So when all the stuff came out in the Eighties, it didn't look right to me to see black women with their hair down their back. And still doesn't.

But that's just me.
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