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Author: Lee Matz

Voting Rights Are Human Rights: A look at how Shepard Fairey installed Milwaukee’s new social justice mural

Internationally acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey and his Obey Giant team painted a visually stunning 7,400 square foot mural entitled “Voting Rights Are Human Rights” in Milwaukee from October 10 to October 13. The main focus of the mural features a portrait of an African American man looking skyward, surrounded by artwork and imagery provided by five Wisconsin artists. The central portrait was based on a photograph captured during a Civil Rights march in the mid-1960s by photographer Steve Schapiro. Fairey met Schapiro at the opening of “The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration” in Montgomery, Alabama. The museum...

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Raysean White reflects on recording the latest example of police brutality against a Black man

Following the string of police shootings of unarmed Black men this year, which culminated in nationwide and ongoing unrest after the death of George Floyd, a 22-year-old Kenosha man filmed the latest extrajudicial killing of an unarmed man of color by law enforcement. Raysean White saw 29-year-old Jacob Blake scuffling with three officers across the street, from his apartment window. The incident happened around 5:00pm on August 23. Kenosha police do not yet have body cameras, so White’s video is the only visual record of the shooting. I was just looking out and thought, I gotta record this. So...

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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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