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Author: Lee Matz

Thousands ride in unity across Milwaukee to affirm the message “Black is Beautiful”

© PHOTO NOTE: All the editorial images published here have been posted to the Milwaukee Independent’s Facebook Page. That collection of photos contains the MI copyright and watermark for attribution, and may be used for private social media sharing. Thousands of people from all over Milwaukee participated in a special “Black Is Beautiful Ride” on June 21. Led by WebsterX, Darius Smith, and Zed Kenzo, the effort was designed to dispel the negative perceptions within white society about people who have a dark skin color. The 16-mile route on the last day of the Juneteenth weekend went across Milwaukee’s...

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Second Life Revisited: Using a virtual world to escape the isolation of social distancing

For most people, the term “Second Life” could easily be confused as a post-death resurrection experience. For some fans of the popular American sitcom “The Office,” it may linger in their memory from an episode where Dwight Schrute, played Rainn Wilson, entered the game with a matching avatar. For others, like myself, Second Life was an online social harbor that teased with the possibilities of the future, before Facebook came along and that dream took a nose dive. The online virtual world was launched in 2003 by the San Francisco-based firm Linden Lab. The platform gained national attention as...

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Life goes on even when it doesn’t: Streaming a funeral “watch party” in the age of coronavirus

The full scale social distancing order that has closed schools and many businesses, to keep the Milwaukee public “Safer at Home” as a way to contain the spread of COVID-19, has upended many normal habits of life. The condition has become more evident as developing situations require that the old ways be applied to our new reality. That example was made clear on March 31, when I attended my first watch party of a live streaming funeral service. Back in 2018 I wrote about the 2011 military funeral of my own father, and how my brothers demanded that I...

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First week of staying at home: A window of images around Milwaukee for everyone stuck behind walls

April 1 marks the first week that Milwaukee, and the entire State of Wisconsin, has been under the “Safer at Home” order issued by Governor Tony Evers, which took affect on Wednesday, March 25. I have almost no photos from my traumatic experience living in China during the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pandemic. In 2003 I was still using a 35mm film camera, and conditions were so unpredictable – especially being a foreigner – that if I did go outside to get provisions I did not take my camera. Also, at that time, to be a foreigner walking...

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A look at past St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Milwaukee after COVID-19 concerns cancel 2020 event

The City of Milwaukee, Westown Association, and the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin made the unified decision to cancel the 54th Annual Shamrock Club of Wisconsin St. Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled for March 14, due to the growing concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Parade organizers had been closely monitoring the situation and were following the direction of the Milwaukee Health Department and Center for Disease Control. A March 9 press release confirmed that the parade would go ahead as planned. But at state and local levels, in a reflection of how the national situation had quickly evolved, the Westown Association...

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Memorial to Baba Punjab Singh brings community together with message of hope and resilience

Members of the Oak Creek community gathered on March 7 to remember the last victim of the August 5, 2012 Sikh Temple of Wisconsin shooting, who passed away due to complications from his original gunshot wound. Baba Punjab Singh was paralyzed from being shot in the head, resulting from a damaged spinal cord when the bullet passed through his jaw. He remained hospitalized from the injury for the past 90 months. He died on March 2, 2020 at the age of 72. His funeral was held prior to the memorial service at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. “Punjab’s unique...

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