tl;dr!? This is a post about timed hand-washing to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday,’ Colin Kaepernick took a knee to the current national anthem which Whitney Houston performed at the start of a football game, and the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd started and is televised.
We consider “how many times can the national anthem be sung whilst kneeling for 9 minutes and 29 seconds?”
2020 Time Change
In 2020 time took a viral turn. We crossed events and commitments off our calendars like the time-management gurus we are not. Ann, my friend, tells me every day is Blursday now and it is! Daffodils were coming up when COVID lockdown started, daffodils are coming up now. A trip around the sun. Happy Birthday COVID!
To prevent the spread of COVID, we were told to wash our hands with soap and water to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday.’ It takes about 20 seconds. And so every Blursday, multiple times, anytime we need to wash our hands and sometimes we don’t need to wash our hands but we do it anyway, we lather up and hum ‘Happy Birthday.’ We could be 3000+ years old by now, but I digress.
We sing to keep track of time.
Colin Kaepernick takes a knee
In 2016, in protest of police brutality, Colin Kaepernick lost his job because he knelt during the US national anthem played at the start of NFL football games.
Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest the same kind of police brutality that took the life of George Floyd under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin.
And given the symmetry – two knees – one in protest of, and one in the exercise of police brutality – well, we wonder how long does it take to sing the national anthem? How long does all this kneeling take?
Which brings us to . . .
Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV
Oh, bless me! In 1991, thirty years ago, Whitney Houston set a high bar, skipped over it, and then threw it away in her performance of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” to kick off Super Bowl XXV. For me, her performance was the ultimate delivery of a nearly unsingable song. Watch it here:
And XXX or 30 years ago, Colin Kaepernick was only three years old, but the national anthem remains. Start-to-finish, “oh say can you see – to – the home of the brave,” Whitney Houston used two minutes, 15 seconds.
Law & Order: Taking a Knee IRL
The TV series Law & Order is a fiction. “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.” Said every narrator ever at the start of the 456 episodes that have aired since September 13, 1990. Approximately 456 crimes discovered, investigated, tried, and brought to life on our TVs in a one-hour episode. Sans commercials, 40-48 minutes of action.
But real life takes so much longer.
On Blursday, March 29, 2021, the trial of Derek Chauvin for the very public execution of George Floyd began. And Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill is allowing it to be televised. And we are riveted. Unedited real life takes so much longer than a commercial-filled hour. As the prosecutors build the case against Derek Chauvin, this is an incomplete, compelling, and in no particular order list of witnesses to a murder:
- Donald Williams, body-builder and martial arts enthusiast identified the “blood hold” Derek Chauvin used. He called ‘911’. He called the police on the police.
- Christopher Martin, the Cup Foods clerk accepted the counterfeit $20 bill but believed Floyd did not know the bill was fake.
- Courtney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend testified to years of fighting an addiction to opioid pain killers.
- Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old passerby pulled over and stopped his car to bear witness and encouraged Floyd to cooperate with the police. And he reported that he spoke to Chauvin five days before: ‘At the end of the day you go home to your family safe and the next person they go home to their family safe.‘
- Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arrandondo fired Derek Chauvin May 26, 2020, the day after Chauvin murdered Mr. Floyd. On the witness stand: “Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that [Chauvin’s knee] should have stopped.”
- Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, identified George Floyd’s last breath. (Trigger Warning: Graphic video of expert counting out George Floyd’s last breaths.) During his testimony, he held us captive with a masterclass in the working of the lungs, the esophagus, the larnyx, and the weighty physics of a knee on a neck.
- Darnella Frazier, a Cup Foods patron who videoed Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
This brings us back to our point. Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for four complete cycles of Whitney Houston’s national anthem with time leftover for a COVID hand-washing ‘Happy Birthday.’
And we wonder, how many “Star-Spangled Banners” is it acceptable to hum while kneeling on a neck? One? Two? Surely not four.
Happy Birthday. We wait for justice.
Viva, this is so powerful, delicate but brutal truth you share. You can slay with words. Thanks as always for your gentle clarity.
Thank you you so much! The first days of the trial, I was just broken — the eye witnesses, the youth, the helpless feeling of who do you call when it is the police doing wrong — and now the arch into expert testimony. It’s good the judge has allowed the trial to be televised.