Misee Harris, a pediatric dentist in Tennessee, didn’t want to quit her job, but when she and her employer were faced with a disagreement related to social media and hovering around race, Harris saw no other option but to walk out.
The 29-year-old became widely known from her social media campaign last year to become television’s first “Black Bachelorette.” She was selected to be a contestant on The Bachelor, but declined. There has never been a Black woman in the position on the popular ABC show and she wanted to change that. Her platform has always been about getting the media to depict Black women in an equal and positive light. Harris may have worked in Columbia, a small town about an hour south of Nashville, but her voice has been heard across the nation. She has appeared on HLN’s Showbiz Tonight, The Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family, MSNBC’s TheGrio.com and HuffPost Live to name a few. She also contributes to the Huffington Post.
On Sept. 4, Harris was heading to lunch when her employer said she needed to speak with her. She said she was caught off guard because there had been no advance notice prior to the meeting. What happened next, not only shocked her, but left her feeling angry. She was shown screenshots from her private Facebook page. Harris had posted a circulating meme shortly after the death of Michael Brown, the slain teen from Ferguson, Missouri.
Here’s a look at the meme:
Harris said, “She pulls out her cell and says what is this? Do you think we feel like this?”
The “we” refers to the all white staff. Harris said she put the meme on her private Facebook profile to share with close friends and family. No one at her former job was on her friend list and they had all been previously blocked.
“I have a public and private page,” said Harris. “It’s none of their business what I am doing.
The practice’s head dentist did not immediately respond by deadline. A woman who answered the phone said that the dentist would not comment at this time nor confirm any facts.
Harris said her employer told her that a colleague had a friend spy on her.
The dentist said she was told that she couldn’t post the meme or anything else related to race because it was unprofessional. The company has no social media policy, she said.
“They took away my First Amendment right,” said Harris.
She said her employer was clueless as to what was happening nationally in Black news and didn’t know about Michael Brown, despite the news of his death being broadcast on stations like CNN and MSNBC.
Harris was told to change how she communicated her opinions through social media or she would need to quit.
This wasn’t the first time Harris had experienced problems with the practice. During the beginning of her Black Bachelorette campaign, she said that colleagues started monitoring her social media accounts. If they didn’t like anything she said in a public statement, they would say so.
If that’s not enough, in 2012, she was invited to a White House dinner with President Obama, but she said her former employer advised her not to attend because everyone else in the office were Republicans.
Harris said she is a victim of racial discrimination and that she wanted to share her story because others might be in similar situations.
“I am the least expected person that this would happen to,” she said. “If it can happen to a well respected doctor and public figure, then it can happen to other people and probably has.”
“I think Blacks often feel stuck and if I were a low income single mom, I would be stuck, but I have the freedom to leave and I want other people to know this is not okay.”