Most rules are made to be broken

Except the one that says non-Black people should avoid the N-word. Plus: Black creators feel let down by TikTok and YouTube increases its shoppability.

Editor’s note: Forgive me for sending today’s newsletter a few hours late. I’m nursing a terrible toothache and it’s had me moving and grooving at a slower pace than usual. Thank you for your grace and send me all the healing vibes! —Michael

Most rules are made to be broken but this one isn’t: Avoid the N-word if you’re not Black, period. I’m looking at you, Christine Davitt, Teen Vogue’s senior social media manager who wrote two tweets in 2009 to a friend who appears to be white identifying him as a “nigga” and another in 2010 using the word again. Davitt is of Irish and Filipino descent, according to multiple previous tweets.

OK, but what do tweets from a decade-plus ago have to do with the current news cycle? Two weeks ago Teen Vogue hired political reporter Alexi McCammond as its new editor-in-chief. The staff rejected the hire due to old anti-Asian and anti-LGBTQ+ tweets from McCammond that she had already apologized for. And Davitt was apparently an especially vocal opponent of the hire. McCammond has since stepped down. And Davitt now looks like a #hippocrick.

For the record, I thought those tweets were ignorant. But more disqualifying was McCammond’s lack of managerial, editing and fashion experience — all requisites for someone helming a fashion magazine. Dewitt or a spokesperson for Condé Nast, Teen Vogue’s publisher, did not respond to a request for comment from The Supercreator.

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According to a recent survey by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, nearly one in five adults report being behind on rent due to the pandemic’s impact on the economy. And even though $21 billion of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was allocated for renter’s assistance and to address homelessness, renters and landlords have been slow to receive this funding. In fact, almost none of the funding from the last two relief bills — has been disbursed. And the federal moratorium on evictions expires at the end of March. There are two viable options: Erase all rental and mortgage debt accumulated during the pandemmy (a move progressives would love to see but is hella unlikely to happen) or extend the moratorium to give tenants more time to get Congressional relief, a compromise requested by 2,300 organizations of the Biden administration. Call your Congressperson and let them know where you stand so we can buy some time for those who need it the most.

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A year after being christened as a political darling by journalists and non-New Yorkers who loved him for being coronavirus’s anti-Trump, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo finds himself embroiled in scandals at every turn. There are those reports that his administration misrepresented and covered up data about COVID-19-related nursing home deaths along with the multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. But up to now, he’s resisted intensifying calls to resign. And for good reason: Black voters, the bedrock of the Democratic Party, don’t want him to. According to a Siena College poll taken on March 8–12, 69 percent of Black voters oppose his resignation.

In a new op-ed in The New York Times, Charles M. Blow accused Cuomo of exploiting the Black community’s reluctance to pass judgment on those accused of wrongdoing, a point of view he claims is informed by enslavement, Jim Crow and mass incarceration. “This is a reticence born out of a history of being falsely accused and persecuted and of needing a second chance to bounce back from the injustice,” Blow wrote. “America has taught Black people in this country to avoid snap judgments and rushed condemnation. White supremacy taught that lesson. Now, politicians, even liberal ones, seek to take advantage of that teaching, to link arms in persecution.”

Blow isn’t alone. “I’m kind of disgusted that he’s trying to use Black people as a shield for what he’s done,” state Sen. Jabari Brisport, a Democrat who represents Brooklyn and has called for Cuomo to be impeached, said to Erin Durkin at Politico last week. “I’ve seen colleagues liken what’s happening to Cuomo to the Central Park Five or Emmett Till, and I think those are wildly off-base. We’re talking about a governor who has pushed forward policies that have actually harmed Black people the most in this state,” he said. “We are the last ones who should be coming to his defense right now.” The Governor’s press office did not respond to a request for comment from The Supercreator.

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During last summer’s racial reckoning, TikTok apologized to Black creators who demanded to be treated more fairly after accusing the short-form video app of censorship. “We want you to know that we hear you and we care about your experiences on TikTok. We acknowledge and apologize to our Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported or suppressed,” a statement from the company said. “We don’t ever want anyone to feel that way. We welcome the voices of the Black community wholeheartedly.” In the months since, TikTok introduced a Creator Fund to help Black creators earn a living off their work. And the company is launching an internal forum to ensure TikTok’s policies and products consider the diversity on the app.

But Black creators say the problems with race and diversity persist. Seb Joseph at Digiday spoke to critics of TikTok who said the company failed to pay certain creators for creating content and also removed posts sometimes without explanation. According to Joseph’s reporting, creators said the app appeared to elevate white creators’ content in search results, giving those creators more views despite Black creators having bigger audiences.

For all the talk about the “creator economy,” Black creators still find themselves outside the grasp of the commercial value their creativity generates. I can deeply empathize with these creators. “Everything we do at TikTok is about providing a safe space for people to express their ideas and creativity, no matter who they are,” a TikTok spokesperson said to Digiday. “We are really proud of the diverse community we have on TikTok, but we know it’s something we constantly need to work on and we’re 100 percent committed to doing that.”

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It seems like every social app is shoppable these days. Last May, Facebook announced Facebook Shops and Instagram Shops — mobile-first experiences that enabled businesses to create free online stores, merchandize their collections with branded fonts and colors, and connect with customers through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct. And earlier this month, Twitter confirmed it is testing new shopping features like display tweets that link out to e-commerce product pages and tweets that include “Shop” buttons with product details integrated directly into the tweet itself.

Now YouTube is doubling down on shopping too. From Damien Wilde at 9to5Google: “As part of one of YouTube’s latest experiments, the video-sharing platform looks to expand beyond the “Products in this Video” feature that auto-detects specific items and will be able to generate related video links to anything featured.”

YouTube said the feature will appear in between recommended videos when US-based viewers are scrolling below the video player with a goal of helping people shop products without having to leave the app. A spokesperson for YouTube did not respond when asked if it or the creator will receive an affiliate commission from product sales on the app.

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