Representative Jim Lucas told 13News Tuesday he didn’t think the meme he posted was racist at all and that people calling it racist “should take a deep breath.”
Republican House Speaker Todd Huston’s response to the outcry over the meme to remove Lucas from two committees and demote him on another.
The meme Lucas posted on his Facebook page Monday night drew widespread outrage, but it also had some support. It showed black children dancing and smiling with the caption, “We gon' get free money!”
At the time, Lucas, who is from Seymour, told 13News he got the stock photo from a meme generator and was criticizing the government.
“It was just a tongue-in-cheek meme that I personally made up to mock the fact that government is taxing our children and grandchildren putting debt on their back to distribute money after they’ve made everybody desperate,” Lucas said.
Members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus responded by calling on Republican leadership to remove Lucas from the committees on which he served.
Huston said he spoke with Lucas midweek and expressed his strong disappointment. He called Lucas’s Facebook post “unacceptable” and said, “I don't condone it."
By the end of the week, Lucas was off two interim study committees - Elections and Public Policy. He also lost his position as vice chair on the standing Committee on Government Reduction, but remains a member.
“I’m happy the Republican leadership took a stand on this and actually reprimanded him,” said Democratic State Representative Robin Shackleford, who serves as chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus. “I do appreciate them actually acknowledging and being disappointed in seeing that these comments were not right. So I’m glad they did take a stand and actually reprimanded him."
Shackleford said in light of the meme and Lucas’ support of it, working with him in the future won’t be easy.
“It’s very challenging when you know how a person feels, when you know where their heart is, it’s hard then to work with that person, or even vote for their legislation,” said Shackleford, who added she’ll push for diversity and implicit bias training for all legislators.
13News reached out to Lucas for comment about Huston’s actions. He said, via text, that he was unavailable Friday for comment.
Tony Mason, president of the Urban League, issued a statement calling the meme “reprehensible and utterly insensitive!”
Lucas has refused to apologize for the post and said it is being blown out of proportion.
“I saw this cute, cocky little kid and other people chose to look at the color of the kid’s skin and here we are,” said Lucas. “I don’t see color. Too many people choose to be offended by pretty much anything right now and I refuse to live my life walking on eggshells. I don’t know what it is about the media, but you’re trying to make something out of nothing.
“I think everybody needs to take a deep breath and just slow down and quit trying to be offended by everything, and that’s one of the reasons this country’s so divided right now, and it’s sad,” said Lucas.
This is not the first time Lucas has been called out for his posts on social media. Back in August 2019, Lucas posted a picture of nooses under a Facebook story about a black man pleading guilty to rape.
In January 2017, Lucas posted on his personal Facebook page, showing a woman getting pepper sprayed at a protest. A caption on the photo read, "Participation trophies, now in liquid form."
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