This Valentine’s Day, a few Latinx students at Michigan State University sent us the following image that was first posted to a Facebook group call MSU Memes 2.0, a online community only for individuals with valid MSU email accounts.
The four images show various Donald Trump Valentine Day’s memes, along with the (get it?) immigration humor that not many Latinos might find funny these days (especially since there is this whole ICE Raid thing going on right now).
We connected with one of the MSU students who sent us the memes and he told us that the memes were posted by Dr. Rob LaDuca from the university’s chemistry department. LaDuca is Associate Dean for Administration and Academic Governance and is very respected by students, according to the student who told us about the meme.
The student told us that LaDuca’s post was reported to his supervisor and soon enough LaDuca offered a public apology and removed the post (but by then, students had already screen grabbed it, proving once again that the Internet is forever). We emailed LaDuca to ask if he had posted the memes and whether he had to offer a public apology, and he did. This is what he wrote back to us:
Yes, I made a public apology. I was so sad to have inadvertently hurt the Latinx people I support wholeheartedly against the reactionary agenda of the President of the United States. I loathe him and everything he stands for. I intended the meme to mock him and make him appear the fool that he is.
Here is the text of my apology.
I want to apologize for the Trump Valentine’s day meme. It was meant to mock Trump and his stupid policies of exclusion based on race and religion. However, some people of Latinx descent felt the meme itself was exclusionary, and for that, I humbly apologize. I am on your side and I detest Trump’s paranoid and hurtful exclusionary policies.
I also posted this:
I am happy to admit when I may have stepped over the line. I think it’s healthy to be checked when you go over the line. Lines change over time so it’s good if someone can check you and then you are grateful for having been checked.
I also called out a white student who took issue with my apology, claiming censorship of the memes group. It is the right thing to do when you have inadvertently hurt people you care about, to own it, apologize, and make amends. How can I make amends to your group? I am happy to meet and listen to your concerns at any time. We will find that we have much in common. I support the advancement of the Latinx people with every fiber of my being.
Dr. Robert LaDuca
The student who alerted us to the meme did also let us know that despite LaDuca’s apology, many Latinx students feel that there is a double standard at MSU. Given that we have written pieces in the past about how many Latinx students take issue with MSU culture and politics, the student who wrote to use said that incidents like the one with DaLuca “happen all the time among the student body and now faculty members/deans.”
The student continued: “The point is that the administration does nothing in response to these issues. Nothing will happen to Dr. LaDuca and we as a community feel that if it was a faculty member of color making bad judgments, they would definitely be in deep ****. These are the politics of MSU.”
Here’s hoping real dialogue begins from a Trump meme.