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Meet Howard Leu, photographer and designer in Milwaukee making a difference

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Posted at 6:15 AM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 07:23:19-04

MILWAUKEE — Howard Leu is a designer and photographer based in Milwaukee.

"I started doing photography at a young age, playing around with my family's point-and-shoot camera," Leu said.

Leu's parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan when he was five.

"My parents were generous enough to develop the film I took and it was all pretty bad stuff but they encouraged that," he said.

"They worked hard. They were very much part of the American fabric," he said.

From a young age, his camera lens has captured so many images of love and unity.

But this past year, his own eyes witnessed a rise in painful prejudice.

"I was thinking of these terms that people would throw at Asian Americans like you don't below here and you brought the virus," said Leu.

"Here we are a year later and a lot of the attacks are still happening," he said.

Leu is stepping out from behind the camera and in his own way, speaking out against hate.

"I was thinking about how to convey this idea that I belong or we belong and finding this message of unity from my own perspective," he added.

Leu does what he does best -- he created art. This time on a t-shirt. He worked with Milwaukee-based Ink to the People to create this design.

The statue of liberty represents freedom.

"The protector, the embodiment of the grace of immigrants," said Leu.

And the crowd, rays of light and the stars and stripes Leu says are all part of a message of belonging. Then there are the dumplings.

"It's one of those foods that transcend cultures, that transcend history. Almost every culture has its own dumpling and I love eating all of them," Leu smiled.

All of the proceeds from the t-shirt sales go to the AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin -- a group created one year ago with a mission to stop racism and hate against Asian Americans.

So far, he has sold dozens of shirts, raising more than $500.

"Having a voice out there and being seen and being seen as who we really are instead of stereotypes," Leu stressed is so important.

"That's a way to say this is very much America," he said.

"Do you see yourself as an inspiration to others?" reporter Kristin Byrne asked Leu.

"Not at all. I see so many other people as an inspiration. I see my parents coming to the United States and building a life so that I can have this life for myself as an inspiration," he added.

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