Political Notebook: Butterfield backs bill to ban hair discrimination

Posted 1/27/20

Wilson’s congressman is sponsoring a bill to ban school and workplace policies that forbid hairstyles like Afros, dreadlocks …

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Political Notebook: Butterfield backs bill to ban hair discrimination

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Wilson’s congressman is sponsoring a bill to ban school and workplace policies that forbid hairstyles like Afros, dreadlocks, cornrows, braids and Bantu knots.

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-Wilson, signed on last month to cosponsor the CROWN Act, whose title stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” Democratic Rep. Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana introduced the legislation.

The measure follows widely reported controversies involving alleged hair discrimination, such as sports officials requiring New Jersey high school wrestler Andrew Johnson to cut his dreadlocks in order to compete in a match.

“The issue is of particular concern to black women, whose hair is more likely than white women’s hair to be perceived as ‘unprofessional,’ according to a 2019 study of 2,000 black and white women,” Allison Stevens reported Monday for N.C. Policy Watch, a news website operated by the North Carolina Justice Center think tank.

The CROWN Act, H.R. 5309, would ban discrimination based on hairstyles and hair texture in education, employment, housing programs and public accommodations. Advocates say a patchwork of rules and varying legal acceptance requires direction from Congress. In 2016, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that refusing to hire a candidate who had dreadlocks did not constitute unlawful discrimination.

The bill states that “clear, consistent and enforceable legal standards must be provided to redress the widespread incidences of race and national origin discrimination based upon hair texture and hairstyle in schools, workplaces, housing, federally funded institutions and other contexts.”

Butterfield is the only member of Congress from North Carolina to sign on to the bill so far. All 38 cosposnors are Democrats. Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred the CROWN Act to the House Judiciary Committee.

GOP slams Cooper over pipeline ‘slush fund’

On Monday, the North Carolina Republican Party released a video it said showcases Gov. Roy Cooper’s “culture of corruption surrounding his $58 million slush fund from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

“Since his days as a state senator, Governor Cooper brings a culture of corruption wherever he goes,” said NCGOP spokesman Jeff Hauser. “He’s completely shunned transparency despite campaigning on being more open, allegedly had an adviser threaten members of his own party with primary challengers, and now his senior adviser is accused of lying to a legislative committee. North Carolina deserves better than a corrupt governor purposefully keeping the state from moving forward.”

Cunningham accused of ‘improper coordination’

Joanna Rodriguez, press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, spread the word Wednesday about Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham being subject of a Federal Election Commission complaint for “improper coordination” with what she called “the liberal dark money group VoteVets Action Fund.”

Cunningham and Erica Smith are in a battle to see who will challenge U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.

According to Rodriguez, the FEC complaint said “the Cunningham campaign has used a public photo-sharing account to coordinate with VoteVets Action Fund.”

“Whether it is ‘misleading’ North Carolina voters about the corporate money boosting his fundraising or ‘improper coordination’ with a dark money group, Cal Cunningham has proved he’ll do or say whatever Chuck Schumer tells him to,” Rodriguez said in a prepared statement. “With all the problems surrounding his campaign, it’s no wonder Cunningham has been reluctant to agree to televised primary debates.”

Dems: Tillis isn’t weighing impeachment evidence

Robert Howard, spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic Party, accused U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of entering President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial last week after he had already “made up his mind” about whether the commander in chief was guilty or innocent.

Howard criticized Tillis for trying to void witness testimony in the Senate trial. Howard cited multiple news outlets that had quoted Tillis’ intent to vote against the articles of impeachment before the trial had started.

Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for holding up $400 million in military aid for Ukraine in exchange a promise by the country’s president that he would announce an investigation into Trump’s political rival, Former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK is a weekly roundup of local and state political news from The Wilson Times’ reporting staff. Send tips and comments to editor@wilsontimes.com.