This black news anchor was told her natural hair was "unprofessional"—and then she was fired
Brittany Noble is an award-winning Mississippi-based journalist who worked for the local Jackson news station WJTV for several years. But she was terminated eight months ago. Noble claims she was fired because she filed several formal complaints about discrimination within the network. In a first-person account of her experience published on Medium on January 7th, Noble recounts several incidents in which she felt blatantly targeted because of her race, as well as times when she observed systemic discrimination against herself and her Black colleagues.
“After having my son, I asked my news director if I could stop straightening my hair,” she wrote. “A month after giving me the green light I was pulled back into his office. I was told ‘My natural hair is unprofessional and the equivalent to him throwing on a baseball cap to go to the grocery store.’ He said, ‘Mississippi viewers needed to see a beauty queen.’ […] When I asked him how I should address the change on social media he told me to write ‘I was told to change my hair back to the way it was because that’s what looks best.'”
And this was just the tip of the iceberg. Noble also recounted how stories involving Black Lives Matters, historically Black fraternities and sororities, and stories involving racial discrimination were almost always rejected by her higher-ups on the grounds that they “weren’t for everyone” (regardless of the fact that Jackson is 80% African American). Noble also noted that it was common knowledge that the network never wanted to have two Black anchors on air at the same time because it didn’t project the proper “image.”
Noble eventually filed two formal complaints with the station’s parent company, Nexstar, and when that only resulted in harassment from her higher-ups, she went to the state, specifically the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). However, not only is the case now stalled because of the government shutdown, but Noble wrote that she recently learned that her assigned caseworker is suing the EEOC himself over complaints that the organization does not fully investigate claims when it comes to a number of high-powered private companies (it’s unclear whether Nextstar is one of them).
“I turned in everything I had to the state hoping they would fight for me. To think the state could actually be working with the corporations and not for the people is beyond disheartening,” Noble wrote.
Disheartening is the right word for this entire situation, and we are livid on Noble’s behalf. However, we’re beyond inspired that she’s taking her story into her own hands and doing what she can to get the word out—both for herself and for other journalists of color. If you want to help support Noble-Jones and her cause, you can follow her on Twitter here, visit her website www.thenoblejournalist.com and purchase a blackjournalistsmatter shirt, or visit her GoFundMe Page, which supports her work telling the untold stories of people of color.
HelloGiggles has reached out to WJTV for comment and is still awaiting a response.