There’s only room for one Delta

The airlines is taking action to stop the spread of the variant. Plus: Season two of one of the best music and talk shows premieres today and I couldn't be more ecstatic about it.

Editor’s note: Starting tomorrow, The Supercreator is off through Labor Day for an end-of-summer break. Supercreator Daily will return to your inbox on Sep. 7.

I’ve been looking forward to unplugging and hope my time off serves as a reminder that creative work is only sustainable when creators feel empowered to rest and reset. The work will always be where you left it.

While I’m away, you can support this one-person media company by subscribing if you haven’t already (reader subscriptions keep the newsletter ad-free and enable my independent reporting), purchasing a gift subscription for a loved one or colleague, buying me a coffee or sending me tips for story ideas.

I’ll see you on the other side!

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I’ll just rip off the bandaid: US hospitals are filled with over 100,000 COVID-19 patients, the most in seven months according to new federal data.

And sure, there are few reasons for optimism. Johnson & Johnson’s announcement that its booster shot generates a nine-fold increase of crucial antibody response. Moderna completed its submission to the Food & Drug Administration for full approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for people age 18 and older.

But TBH, sometimes it feels like we’ll never escape this year-plus cycle of taking one step forward to end the pandemic before falling three steps back due to misinformation, vaccine hesitancy and our country’s infatuation with individualism.

That’s why I’m not mad at Delta Airlines. The company notified unvaccinated employees today that they’ll face $200 monthly increases on their health insurance premiums starting Nov. 1. Here’s CEO Ed Bastian in a company-wide memo:

The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person. This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company. In recent weeks since the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant, all Delta employees who have been hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated.

That’s not all either. Delta, which already requires new employees to be vaccinated, said that unvaccinated employees must use their sick days if they contract the virus (Vaccinated people who experience breakthrough infection receive pay protection.)

I’m far from a corporate apologist and think all of us are entitled to quality and affordable health care. After all, Delta arrived at this business decision after realizing unvaccinated people are too expensive of a liability. But we’re in the fourth wave of a public health crisis and our primary responsibility as humans is to keep each other safe. If people are unwilling to accept accountability for what I consider a sacred duty and state governments are, then the private sector is kind of our last line of defense against reliving the worst parts of this pandemic all over again.

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Glenn Thrush and Alan Rappeport at The New York Times reported today that only $5.1 billion funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program had been administered to tenants and landlords.

Congress approved $46.5 billion in two federal pandemic relief packages in December and March. But according to estimates, just 500,000 of the 2.8 million households who have applied reported receiving assistance. 1.5 million more are waiting for approvals; nearly 700,000 have been rejected. That’s a bummer because the Biden administration is holding its breath while the Supreme Court decides if it will strike down the targeted eviction ban the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued earlier this month.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in her first one-on-one interview with NYT’s Katie Glueck and Luis Ferré-Sadurní that she would be spending more public time and effort on housing:

I think there’s still an opportunity. So many people are living in squalor. The heat is not reliable in the wintertime. It’s too hot in the summertime. Things are breaking down, and I want to get back to the nuts and bolts. Everybody has the dignity, even the dignity of having a good roof over their heads. I’ve seen how transformative it is when you give people a safe home, something that so many take for granted, but if you don’t have it, it’s terrifying.

One more note on housing: In yesterday’s newsletter, I wrote that Rep. Pete Aguilar said during the House Democrats’ weekly press conference that $21 billion in rental assistance had been administered to communities. After checking in with Rep. Aguilar’s communications director Parker Dorrough, the congressman was simply reiterating that the American Rescue Plan had allocated the funds, but not that they had been distributed. That’s my bad.

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Hochul said in her NYT interview that she would use her new influence to help Democrats expand the House majority through the redistricting process:

I am also the leader of the New York State Democratic Party. I embrace that. I have a responsibility to lead this party, as well as the government. I’m going to be doing whatever I can to let people know that the values of the Democratic Party today are part of who I am, fighting for people that just had a tough blow dealt to them in life. The Democratic Party has to regain its position that it once had when I was growing up. My grandparents were FDR Democrats. My parents were JFK Democrats. Today, I’m a Biden Democrat.

I wonder if Democrats will continue to align themselves with the president if public opinion continues to sour in response to his handling of the pandemic and Afghanistan troop withdrawal.

Hochul also said she strongly supports bail reform, shared that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton offered to be a sounding board whenever she wanted and hopes that her tenure as governor changes “people’s images of women in executive positions.”

In related news, it looks like Hochul has chosen New York State Sen. Brian Benjamin to replace her as Lt. Gov., the number-two position in state government. Hochul said she wanted to hire someone from New York City (Benjamin was born in Harlem.) And the fact that Benjamin is Black and brings a broad range of experience across several committees and from various roles in government is thought to be a sign that Hochul is also looking ahead to her first campaign for governor, where she’ll need the support of the city’s diverse electorate. Fun fact: Sen. Benjamin and I go to the same church. 🙏🏾

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The Biden administration is pissed at the Supreme Court for rejecting its request to hold a district court’s order requiring it to reinstate the “remain in Mexico” policy, a Trump-era program that called for asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while they wait for a hearing in US immigration court.

The Department of Homeland Security appealed the district court’s order but said it would comply with the order in good faith. DHS also said it would continue to vigorously challenge the ruling and committed to continue processing “individuals in accordance with US law and our mission.” But Ian Millhiser at Vox said that the Supreme Court’s decision to deny the stay “bodes very ill for the ultimate outcome of that appeal.”

If Democrats pass its Build Back Better budget, it would allocate more than $100 billion to provide legal permanent status to undocumented immigrants. But it’s still uncertain how many people or who exactly would be eligible for a path to citizenship.

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Let’s stick with the BBB budget: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was all smiles this morning at her weekly press conference hours after she united every House Democrat to vote for the party’s resolution that enables lawmakers to move forward drafting a $3.5 trillion package to offset climate change, provide paid family leave to parents and caregivers, make community college and universal pre-K free, and extend the child tax credit for families and raise taxes for corporations. “It was a team effort to win the vote,” Pelosi said. “Our values keep House Democrats together.”

The Speaker, who has earned a reputation for leading with an “iron fist in a velvet glove,” added that she always had confidence that the resolution would pass despite threats from 10 conservative Democrats to derail the party’s entire legislative agenda by demanding Pelosi hold a vote for the bipartisan infrastructure deal before passing the budget.

The House is scheduled to vote for the bipartisan deal on Sep. 27. But Pelosi was careful to note that she set that date because the deal has to pass by the end of September to authorize many of the provisions in the legislation not because of the suicide squad’s threats.

As for the budget, each committee authorized to draft the bill will submit their approved sections by Sep. 15. Pelosi said the committees will write the final bill with Senate Democrats since they all have to ultimately vote for it. The alternative would be for both chambers to write their versions and then come together at the end to workshop the differences. Trust me: All of this sounds way easier said than done.

The House also passed the Voting Rights Advancement Act named after Rep. John Lewis, the late civil rights legend. “Congressman John Lewis was an American hero who dedicated his life to fighting for our nation's highest ideals,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement. “The House of Representatives honored Congressman Lewis by passing his namesake legislation, which restores and expands the historic Voting Rights Act.” President Biden added that the act would “secure the most sacred of American rights: the right to vote freely, the right to vote fairly, and the right to have your vote counted.”

Pelosi led a round of applause for a group of Texas Democrats who were on hand for the vote and have spent much of this summer in Washington DC lobbying for Congress to take action against an anti-voter measure set to pass in Texas that’s similar to other measures across Texas designed to suppress the votes of poor, Black and brown people.

Not a single House Republican voted for the John Lewis Act and Senate Republicans are expected to block it as well. In acknowledging the lack of Republican support, Pelosi referenced the 2006 vote for the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act to show how anti-democracy the modern GOP has become. The bill unanimously passed the Senate 98–0 and passed the House 390–33, with 192 Republican votes and a Democratic minority. Republican President George W. Bush signed the bill into law. What a difference 15 years makes.

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A new study from a London-based counterextremism think tank found that TikTok is trafficking in short-form videos that promote white supremacy and anti-Black racism after pledging to crack down on hate speech. Here’s Jessica Guynn at USA TODAY:

Though white supremacist videos were by far the largest category of content the study uncovered, the institute found an alarming number of videos spewing offensive content about Asians, LGBTQ people, migrants and refugees, women, Muslims and Jews.

Black people were also frequent targets of hate. Some videos mocked or celebrated the death of George Floyd, who was murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis in 2020.

Others used racist terminology such as “jogger exterminator,” a reference to the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was chased and shot by white men last year while running in a neighborhood south of south of Savannah, Georgia. “Jogger” is an anti-Black slur used by far-right groups to refer to Black people.

Another video covered Black Lives Matters’ closed fist symbol with a white hand in a Sieg Heil, the Nazi victory salute.

Hate speech obviously was around before social apps and TikTok isn’t the only one that harbors it. (Just today, James Factora at them reported that Black and LGBTQ gamers are planning to boycott the streaming platform Twitch on Sep. 1 in protest of an uptick in hate spam in recent weeks.) But if tech companies are as committed to creator equity and empowerment as they say they are, then they must realize that the risk of abuse and harassment is a barrier to entry for creators from marginalized communities. And our elected officials have to understand that allowing these companies to self-regulate will probably accommodate incremental progress but fall short of the meaningful forward movement we need to reduce the spread of this kind of content.

Related: TikTok is reportedly testing five-minute videos.

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OnlyFans reversed its plans to ban explicit content:

In a follow-up statement to The Supercreator, a spokesperson for OnlyFans added: “The proposed October 1, 2021 changes are no longer required due to banking partners’ assurances that OnlyFans can support all genres of creators.” The spokesperson declined to comment when asked why sex workers should trust that OnlyFans is still a safe space for them to earn a living and express themselves.

In case you missed it, here’s my column after OnlyFans announced the ban last week:

The Supercreator
OnlyFans’s SFW pivot is the latest example of the limitations of the “creator economy”
I already planned to write about OnlyFans today after Dan Primack at Axios reported this morning that the company doesn’t mention “porn” once in the pitch deck it’s showing to potential investors as it searches for venture capitalists to serve as a “strategic partner.” This bit of news was weird to me since OnlyFans only gained……
Read more

Read All About It

Grace B. McGowan  at The Conversation on how Lizzo and Cardi B are reclaiming classical design:

The bodies of the statues in Lizzo’s video are not the chiseled physiques you’re accustomed to seeing in museums, while the various Grecian-style vases are painted with images of women in bondage gear, performing on poles, and twerking. Lizzo and Cardi B also perform in front of statues that are deliberately centered on the buttocks. It’s an allusion not just to classical statues like the Venus Callipyge—which translates to “Venus of the beautiful buttocks”—but also a playful dig at a culture that historically has hypersexualized the bodies of Black women.

I’d never suggest reading the comments section of any YouTube video. But with “Rumors” you don’t have to scroll for very long before coming across a heated debate around “cultural appropriation” in the music video. Some say that it’s Greek and Roman art that’s being pilfered and sullied.

But to me, it’s just another example of Black women trying to stake their own claim to the beauty, joy, and power of this tradition.

Amil Niazi at The Cut on why the pandemic is just getting worse for parents:

Every time I’ve tried to describe to people around me what it’s been like to have young kids over the past year, I inevitably reach for fiery analogies to fill in the blanks. “I don’t know,” I say to my friends, “it’s a bit like my brain is burning and so is my entire house and someone just stole the fire extinguisher.” Or, “You know, if I’m being honest, it feels like I’m juggling seven chainsaws, and oops, now they’re all on fire and I’ve been doing it for 18 months.” The only real difference between say, last August and now is that at least back then people were still asking how I was. Pandemic fatigue is inevitable and parents who’ve been on the brink since the beginning are bearing the brunt of it.

Hazel Cills at Jezebel on the cursed history of the sexy Green M&M:

This sexy connection is in part because of the long-held myth, beginning in the 1970s according to Snopes, that green M&Ms are an aphrodisiac. For years the candy company avoided singling out green M&Ms, aside from a 1992 lawsuit against a company that manufactured green-only chocolate candies (“The Green Ones”) that looked suspiciously like M&Ms. But beginning in 1997 the company would seize upon the association when the candy underwent a rebrand. In the 1990s M&M’s had lost crucial brand recognition, and the company hired ad agency BBDO to rebrand the candy into a series of characters with personalities. They would roll out the scheming Red, the clueless Yellow, and the cool Blue, and then finally Green, deemed the sexy one, and given high-heeled white go-go boots to accentuate her legs, Susan Credle, the agency’s creative director at the time, told Business Insider.

Michael’s Pick

Danyel Smith’s Black Girl Songbook: Season two of this incredible music and talk show from one of my editorial icons premiered today and I couldn’t be more ecstatic.