KTBS-TV weather woman Rhonda Lee, in Shreveport, Louisiana, was recently fired for responding to a racist comment by a viewer on Facebook about KTBS-TV's 'Three Minute Smile' contest, which gives winners a shopping spree at Walmart, reports mediaite.com.
On November 14, a viewer named Kenny Moreland, whose Facebook profile picture is the Little Rascals‘ Buckwheat character with the caption “Buckwheat Say: O-Tay,” posted this comment on KTBS-TV's Facebook page:
Not to start any trouble, because I think that the annual “Three Minute Smile” is a great function and I love to see kids so happy. Am I the only one that has noticed that this year, all the kids, lets say, are people of color? This is Channel 3, not KSLA, the “Project Pride” network, that might as well be part of the BET channel. Did KTBS slip up on a news story, and owe S’port’s criminal mayor Cedric, a favor? Seems like some racism going on to me. Just saying…..
Moreland wrote another comment on the station’s website earlier that same day:
Has anybody else noticed that this years “3 minute smile” contestants are all of the same race? I thought this was Channel 3, and not KSLA the “Project Pride” network. Looks like racism to me. Not to put it down… I think it’s great for the little kids to get such a chance, but come on….. Are Ya’ll on Cedric Glover’s secret payroll now?
Lee responded to the comment the following day:
I’m not sure I understand your comment. “…this is Channel 3 not KSLA…” What are you trying to say?
The children are picked at random. So there goes your theory that they are selected for their color. I would like to think that it doesn’t matter who the child is. If you truly just want to see the kids happy your message had a funny way of showing it.
Happy holidays. –Met. Rhonda Lee
Lee told Mije.org: “I was the one who brought it to their attention after they let it fester on the page for 6 days, but was then chastised for responding at all. I sent a screen grab to my boss via e-mail telling them that I’m ok with the anti-Rhonda commentary sometimes, but what has been posted at the time was . . . racist, and I asked them to please support me in removing the ones that didn’t encourage thoughtful, respectful and civil discourse on our FB page. I never got a reply, only punished. To this day the posts are still there.”
She added: “. . . Race has been the issue with me since I started. That much is VERY true. Weather is an older white boy business and arms have been less than open for a young black girl — a polar opposite. As reported I’ve had more problems here in the south than I have anywhere else in my 25+ years in the business. Perhaps there is a pattern, but I am a glutton for punishment (ha, ha), and I want what I deserve as any professional would so if I have to fight for it I will.”