In 2020, we had trauma every which way: a deadly pandemic, an economic plunge, a reckoning over race and a fraught election made for a time that will shape history for decades to come. That we are still coming to terms with all of it was clearer than ever this week.
In a Minneapolis courtroom, witnesses relived the pain of George Floyd’s public death, as prosecutors revealed that Derek Chauvin, then a police officer and now on trial for the events of last May, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, even longer than previously thought.
For all the shock that the testimony produced, Joseph and others noted that Black Americans have become accustomed to such stark injustice.
Nia-Malika Henderson recalled her mother’s tears in 1992 when violence broke out in Los Angeles after police officers were acquitted of the beating of Rodney King, which had been captured on video. “‘Black people are in so much pain,’ she cried, covering her face with her hands and burying her head in her knees.”
Henderson isn’t watching the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. She confessed that despite being a journalist, “I have never seen the George Floyd video.” On the trial, she wrote, “I keep my television muted if it is onscreen. Or I change the channel to avoid seeing anything at all. More specifically, I, like so many others who have seen too much, am avoiding yet another display of Black pain, Black trauma and Black death.”
Capitol police officer killed
The trauma of Jan. 6, when rioters stormed the Capitol aiming to stop the certification of the 2020 election, also lingers painfully. On Friday, security at the Capitol drew headlines when a driver on Constitution Avenue rammed a barricade. Police officer William “Billy” Evans was killed and a second officer was injured. The driver, identified as Noah Green, was shot to death by police, who said he was holding a knife.
The January attack at the Capitol was deeply personal for Theresa J. Fanone. Her son is a 20-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Fanone was watching the insurrection on television when she got an “emotional, tearful” call from Michael Fanone’s police partner informing her he had been injured. “My first conversation with Michael, who sounded terrified, began with, ‘Mom, the hate in those people’s eyes, they wanted to kill me, they kept screaming, ‘kill him, kill him, get his gun and kill him.’ Michael, along with many other officers, had been holding the door to the West Tunnel of the Capitol (the door the President uses when he takes the oath of office) when he was pulled through the doorway by the mob, pushed down the stairs, kicked, beaten, maced, tased repeatedly on his neck, had his face shield ripped off and his badge and radio taken.”
On March 25, former President Donald Trump called into a Fox News show to say his supporters had posed “zero threat” that day in January and had been “hugging and kissing” police officers. “My experience of that day, and every day since, has been significantly different,” Theresa Fanone wrote.
The wave of anti-Asian American violence that grew after Trump repeatedly labeled Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” also hasn’t gone away. In one incident, on Monday a 65-year-old woman of Filipino descent was punched and kicked on a New York City street by an attacker shouting anti-Asian slurs.
Yumi Hogan, the first lady of Maryland and the first Korean-American first lady in the US, wrote, “My fellow Asian Americans weep over the rising number of attacks against our people. But in the face of this senseless violence, I see a new strength, determination and resilience in our eyes.”
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A missed birthday
A year ago, Fiana Garza Tulip was sending videos of her seven-month-old daughter to her mother, who was “filled with such joy every time she received a clip of her only grandchild.” Tulip’s mother, Isabelle Hilton Papadimitriou, was a respiratory therapist, and last June had a confrontation with a hospital visitor who refused to wear a mask, citing Trump’s failure to wear one. Covid-19 spread through her hospital department and a few weeks later, Papadimitriou died of the disease. She would have celebrated her 65th birthday this week.
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Joe Biden in a hurry
Conservative pundits have kept busy deriding the President’s behavior — his recent stumble on the stairs leading up to Air Force One, using note cards at his press conference, heading home to Delaware on some weekends and owning a dog that bit two federal workers. Focusing on such trivialities is a mistake, argued Lanhee Chen:
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A loyal backer of President Donald Trump was drawn into controversy this week. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz “is under investigation by the Justice Department, which is reportedly looking into whether he paid for the travel expenses of a 17-year-old girl across state lines to entice her into sexual activity,” wrote legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor. Gaetz has lashed out in his defense, saying that “he and his father are the victims of an extortion plot by individuals who demanded $25 million in exchange for helping Gaetz with the sex trafficking investigation.”
Super Mario lives…and dies
Did you know that Nintendo’s Super Mario has a biographer? Jeff Ryan wrote the book on the character’s prominence in the video game world and this week addressed the false rumors that “Super Mario, the mustached video game plumber, was going to be dead the day after March 31.” In fact, Nintendo is scheduled to release another Super Mario game this year and was just making a few tweaks to its game lineup.
As Ryan pointed out, Mario “dies for a living” in the games. Turns out he is based on the real-life Mario Segale, the landlord of the Seattle-area warehouse where thousands of Nintendo arcade cabinets were waiting to be refitted with a new game four decades ago.
Time for playing
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings…