An African-American meteorologist in Louisiana was allegedly fired after responding to a viewer's comments about her appearance. Rhonda Lee told CNN's Soledad O'Brien that instead of being heralded for her efforts, she was "given a pink slip."
"The black lady that does the news is a very nice lady," a viewer wrote on an online comment forum for the station. "I'm 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?" Emmitt Vascocu wrote.
In turn, Rhonda Lee posted a polite response explaining her appearance and decision to keep her hair short.
"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," Lee responded.
"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," she added. "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."
There was no further exchange between Lee and Vascocu, but the fact that Lee was terminated following the original exchange allegedly violated an "unwritten" company policy on social media, the Daily Mail noted.
"I had a meeting with my ND (news director) and GM (general manager) Friday trying to get my job back," Lee told Clutch magazine. "They told me the police 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."
Lee's fans have formed a petition to get her back on the air and until then she remains hopeful that things will work out.
As for Vascocu, he posted on Facebook that he was "not a racist but this world has certain standards. If you've come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?" he asked.