George Floyd’s murder didn’t change much after all
The two-year anniversary of his killing is a stark reminder of how the politics of police reform have regressed. Plus: I’m taking a week off.
Let’s start with a programming note: Supercreator will be on hiatus until May 31. Congress is out next week so it’s one of the last best times for me to unplug before the thicket of state primaries take place this summer ahead of the November midterm elections.
I’ve been writing this newsletter without a meaningful break since the top of the year and I’m exhausted. I plan to rest, stream lots of trash TV and get my cook on in the kitchen. I’ll also catch up on some reading — starting with His Name is George Floyd, a biography by Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa that pays respect to the man while exploring the policies that shaped his life and ultimately led to his death in 2020. (ICYMI: I included this excerpt on how Floyd spent his final hours in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago.)
Order the book and read along with me while I’m on break. And I’ll meet you back here in 11 days.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Friday morning and welcome to Supercreator Daily, your guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping how digital creators work and live in the new economy.
Here’s what’s happening today in politics:
— President Biden this morning arrived in Seoul, South Korea for the first stop of a six-day visit to Asia, the first of his presidency.
The rest of Biden’s trip:
Saturday: The president will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Seoul National Cemetery and a bilateral meeting with President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea. The two leaders will also hold a press conference before Biden attends a state dinner hosted by Yoon at the National Museum of Korea.
Sunday: Biden will give a speech with a Hyundai Motor Group executive on the company’s decision to invest in a new electric vehicle and production plant in Georgia as a part of a pitch to bring more manufacturing back to America. He’ll also meet with service members and military families at an airbase before traveling to Tokyo.
Monday: The president will meet with Emperor Naruhito of Japan followed by a press conference with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. Biden and Fumio will also meet with families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea several decades ago, launch an economic initiative for prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and attend a state dinner hosted by Fumio.
Tuesday: Biden will participate in a summit with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan in Tokyo before returning to the White House.
— Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Falls Church, Virginia to speak about new investments in clean school buses. Once back in DC, Harris will speak at an event for AAPI Victory Power Fund, a Super PAC focused on mobilizing eligible Asian American and Pacific Islanders voters.
— First Lady Jill Biden this morning will visit Iglesia La Compania de Jesus, a historic church in Ecuador before traveling to Panamá to meet with Yazmin Colón de Cortizo, the country’s first lady. Dr. Biden and Cortizo will visit a local school before Biden meets with staff at the US embassy in Panama City.
— Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff this afternoon will speak at the 21st Annual Women's Power Lunch in Chicago, Illinois.
— The House and Senate are out.
Back to George Floyd for a moment. Next week marks the two-year anniversary of his killing at the hands of Minnesota police officers. And the date is a stark reminder of how the politics of police reform have regressed after the season of nationwide solidarity that peaked two summers ago has taken a backseat to calls from the administration to “fund the police.”
During his campaign, President Biden made police reform a focus and during a meeting last year with Vice President Harris, he promised George Floyd’s family he’d lobby Congress to pass a bill on the issue in his name. (Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Karen Bass of California for months negotiated with Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina on a bill that was designed to hold law enforcement accountable and restore trust between police departments and the communities they serve but couldn’t resolve a few key differences to reach a final agreement.)
In lieu of legislative action, the White House for months now has promised an executive order on police reform. And civil rights leaders and Black Lives Matter activists are growing impatient as the administration deliberates to make sure the final product passes judicial muster.
Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week during her final briefing with reporters that the administration wanted to give Congress time to negotiate a law that would be more permanent than an executive order but that Biden still has every intention of signing one at some point.
Community leaders are also rankled by a recent call from the White House for local leaders to pour more dollars into policing budgets ahead of the summer months, which are often some of the most violent of the year.
Biden has been consistently vocal about “funding the police” despite calls to the contrary from some progressive Democrats and civil rights organizations and as Republicans attempt to cast the president as soft on crime — a comical assertion considering Biden is the main architect of the infamous 1994 bill that marked a shift towards mass incarceration of an entire generation of mostly Black and brown men.
The White House will tell you they’re not just aimlessly pumping funding into police departments though.
Psaki said last week that the president’s agenda is about ensuring that there are enough cops on the beat to crack down on illegal guns and empowering communities to intervene on behalf of those at risk of committing violent crimes. The administration also touts the Justice Department’s work to ban federal chokeholds, while conceding that actions like these would be more effective if they were adopted across more cities and states and as part of federal law.
“He is going to continue to support the funding of police. He hopes Republicans join him in supporting his budget,” Psaki said. “And he also supports accountability and a police reform executive order will be a part of that.”
Meanwhile, there’s no word on if and how the White House will acknowledge the anniversary of Floyd’s murder next week. A White House spokesperson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Read All About It
Of all the tasks one undertakes during air travel, navigating the security line is among the worst. It is a simultaneously mundane and stressful undertaking; The waiting is deeply boring, and the thought something might go awry and you’ll miss your flight is deeply annoying. Luckily! You have options to try to cut down on time, jump to the front of the line, or go to a different line altogether. Unluckily! Those options are going to cost you.
You may very well decide those costlier options are worth it, especially if you travel a lot. (I have TSA PreCheck, which I’ll talk about later, and I greatly enjoy it.) But that you’re inclined to pay at all points to a bigger issue: Across the economy, there are all sorts of ways for certain people to pay to skip the line, dividing consumers in a vaguely dehumanizing way. The consumer experience has become so bad that letting people try to pay to get around it is a viable business model.
At the airport, travelers are split into microgroups of haves and have-nots based on what they’re willing to fork over, not only in the security line but also at the gate and where they sit on the plane. Instead of letting some people pay to get ahead, wouldn’t it be better if the whole ordeal were just improved for everyone?
David Wallace-Wells on the true cost of the climate stalemate in Congress:
How bad is the climate stalemate? In the United States, we have gotten used to legislative inaction, on climate as with much else. But even by those debased standards a failure to pass a major emissions-cutting bill this Congress would be, potentially, a generational setback — pushing hopes for paradigm-shifting legislation so far over the time horizon they effectively disappear. To listen to many on the environmental left, it could prove to be a defeat worse than the election of Donald Trump — potentially more damaging both because it comes at a more perilous and urgent time and because it’s not at all clear when the next opportunity would materialize.
Alyssa Rosenberg on why the formula shortage is a crisis for men too:
The infant formula crisis has opened a frank conversation about how Americans feed their babies. And in a heartening sign, an important group has joined those discussions: Men are speaking candidly about the stresses of finding formula.
As with many aspects of parenting, the formula shortage has often been framed in terms of motherhood, the latest blow to moms battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Women have come forward to shake off their feelings of shame about choosing to use formula or to grapple with the circumstances that meant they could not breastfeed their babies.
But the frank remarks of a number of powerful men offer a reminder that, if they choose to be, fathers can be partners in the effort to keep their infants fed. It’s a welcome counterpoint to the cultural portrayals of dads as clueless and detached — and to even more damaging norms that encourage men to skip on some of the most fulfilling and intimate aspects of raising a child on the grounds that those tasks are women’s work.
Derek Thompson on the housing market:
If you’ve tried to buy a home in the past two years, you have my most profound sympathies. Your experience has probably gone something like this: You found your dream home online; sent photos around to your family; visited the premises (or decided to buy, sight unseen); got your financial statements in order; smartly offered 10 percent over asking; and learned, several hours later, that no fewer than 831 other people had bid for the same house, which sold to a couple who paid 50 percent over asking, all cash, and cinched the deal with a contract amendment promising to name their firstborn child after the seller.
Yes, the American real-estate market really has been historically hellish, or historically hot, depending on whether you were trying to buy a home or sell one. Within the past year, just about every housing statistic you could imagine set some kind of berserk record. Home prices hit a record high, the share of homes that sold above asking hit a record high, and the number of available homes for sale hit a record low.
But the vibe is shifting. I count at least three signs that the national housing market is about to experience a significant slowdown.
Elizabeth Djinis on if social media apps can actually get people to vote:
It’s no surprise that the tech companies behind these efforts think their initiatives are effective. But academics have a slightly more nuanced take: In 2020, the majority of people age 18-29 and the majority of those 18-19 said they got election information from roommates or friends, according to research conducted by Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), which has partnered with Snapchat to aid the company’s voter engagement efforts.
But research shows that 18-19 year olds were more likely to get information from certain social media sites, such as Snapchat and TikTok, than the larger subset of 18-29 year olds. Forty-four percent of 18-19 year olds got election information from Snapchat vs. only 23% of 18-29 year olds. That dynamic was reinforced on TikTok: 47% vs. 26%.
CIRCLE’s Newhouse director, Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, says that social media cannot be the only strategy to reach young voters: “It’s not a solution on its own. Just because you build it doesn’t mean that people will come.”
Josh Greenblatt on why braincare is the latest wellness trap:
But, for all its buzz, braincare in its many forms is no more than another variation on a classic grift. While some studies support the functional effects of substances like adaptogens, medical evidence is insufficient to support the claims made by brands, self-appointed gurus, and “doctors” hawking cerebral elixirs and tonics that promise to make you smarter.
Stigma around mental illness may in part be driving braincare’s popularity. For many patients, being diagnosed with a psychological illness might breed shame, despite the topic of mental health becoming a larger part of the cultural conversation; a physical illness is concrete, palatable, and more socially acceptable than, say, a depression diagnosis, Shorter points out. There’s also the reality that patients who suffer from chronic illness or hard-to-treat conditions often struggle to find affordable and appropriate medical care — especially if they are are racial minorities or low-income — and the approaches of conventional physicians who practice modern medicine can be reductive or dismissive.
For braincare companies, the pandemic has provided the best market research any salesperson could ask for. Our brains have taken a beating over the last two years, with the growing number of people experiencing chronic stress, cognitive impairment, and other neurological or mental health issues, like long Covid or depression, forming a massive market of people seeking a salve or solution — and investors, wellness entrepreneurs, and physicians alike have seized the opportunity to sell us cures for our apparently declining cognition. Kin is betting on the $110-billion functional beverage market, which is expected to double over the next decade. Meanwhile, Heights is riding the wave of the global brain health supplement market — set to hit nearly $20 billion by 2030, up from $7.7 billion in 2020 — and promoting its wares as goods for daily rituals and long-term use. That a drink, a supplement, or a brain scan is an empowering personal health choice is a message increasingly shoved in our faces.
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