Corallys Ortiz just wanted to give her hair a break.
Ortiz, a meteorologist and TV reporter at WBBJ 7 in Jackson, TN, decided that instead of her usual straight-haired look, she would wear her natural curls on TV.
“I’ve been giving my hair a bit of a break from this heat and humidity and not having to straighten it so often. This is only my second round wearing it the 10 months I’ve been in Tennessee,” Ortiz wrote in a Facebook post.
Ortiz, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, initially received a lot of positive feedback from viewers who appreciated her natural look.
But Ortiz says on Sunday night, she received a voicemail at the station, which blasted her for simply being herself.
“A viewer who goes by Donna felt that my hair wasn’t up to ‘her standards.’ The following video just reflects back to everything I just said about criticism and dealing with what is considered “cultural or racial ignorance.” Racism for short. It is very clear you can hear what she says and it’s something I don’t condone.”
A creaky woman’s voice can be heard on tape saying,
“To the weather girl tonight, please don’t wear your hair like that anymore. It just doesn’t look good at all. Change it back to something more normal. Not something that’s all– n*ggery lookin’.”
Normal? By whose standards? It’s a struggle many women of color in television news face daily, with journalists like Tamron Hall, Athena Jones and Demetria Obilor, paving the way for normalizing natural hair at every level of broadcast news.
Ortiz, was so appalled by the statement, she replayed the recording and shared it on her Facebook page.
“I hope it serves as a lesson to people like Donna and to remind her that we are living in a new century, in nation filled with people of different backgrounds, cultures, ideals, colors, shapes and sizes,” Ortiz wrote.
Since the posting, the reporter has received a wide outpouring of support from her fans and viewers.
Listen for yourself and read Ortiz’ full powerful statement about the importance of representation.
Where do I even begin.There are many ways I like to define myself as a person. I am a woman of color. I am of Caribbean descent directly from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Multilingual. I am a college educated woman with two degrees. Most importantly, I’m someone passionate about science and arts and I’m happy I get to work in the field that I’ve loved since I was young.Being from such a racially ambiguous background, it’s not uncommon that people ask me where I am from. Coming to this region of the United States from the North I always had my own perceptions how living in this different environment would be.To many, I look either like a black/mixed woman or a brown woman. I understand many people here haven’t seen a variety of other cultural groups or might not know the difference between being “Mexican” or Hispanic… none of which I would ever put people down for. I always appreciated the genuine curiosity that came from some people whenever they ask me these questions.One thing that has always been a strong part of my identity is my hair. About 90 percent of the time I wear it straight. It’s the way I was accustomed to wear it growing up. The last few years I’ve grown to manage and love wearing it in its natural state, the big curly fro or “poof” as I call it. No it’s not a wig like some people have thought, but because of my racially ambiguous background my hair texture itself is versatile, meaning I can wear it and style it many ways. What many people may not know is that being in the TV industry there is a “standard” in which people are made to have their hair worn. The issue with this is that it always targets and pressures women of color to present their hair in ways that are unnatural just for the sake of having their hair look “professional.” For years on end women of color have always been told their hair wasn’t professional or “neat” enough for the work place, and for years women of color would have to adhere to “white beauty standards” in order to get ahead. Slowly but surely over the years those standards have been changing in this field and we see more and more women of color being able to present themselves with their natural hair on TV.I write this because these past few days I’ve been giving my hair a bit of a break from this heat and humidity and not having to straighten it so often. This is only my second round wearing it the 10 months I’ve been in Tennessee. I’ve received so much positive feed back from viewers about the brief hair change I have going on and how they enjoy seeing my curly hair. Many people appreciate the representation I’ve given to those wanting to wear their hair in their natural state.Unfortunately, working in the TV industry there is always going to be criticism as well. We’ll focus all day in trying to get a report or forecast in, but to just end up getting criticized for wearing a certain clothing or having a certain hairdo from viewers at the end of the day.In my case early Sunday night, a viewer who goes by Donna felt that my hair wasn’t up to “her standards.” The following video just reflects back to everything I just said about criticism and dealing with what is considered “cultural or racial ignorance.” Racism for short. It is very clear you can hear what she says and it’s something I don’t condone. I hope a post like this brings to light the constant criticism a person of color might face just for being themselves. I hope it serves as a lesson to people like Donna and to remind her that we are living in a new century, in nation filled with people of different background, cultures, ideals, colors, shapes and sizes.
Posted by Corallys Ortiz on Monday, September 17, 2018