If you think racism isn't running rampant in our country, just look to this fourth grade team.
A young group of black and Latinx students took home the championship trophy for their robotics competition in Indiana, but not everyone was celebrating their victory. After finishing in the competition, the Panther Bots' competitors yelled racial slurs at the team in the parking lot, including "Go back to Mexico!"
"They were pointing at us and saying, ‘Oh my God, they are champions of the city all because they are Mexican,'" Diocelina Herrera, one of the student's mothers, said. "They are Mexican and they are ruining our country.'" The team is made up of three Latinx students and two black, all of whom have worked together to win six awards for their creations.
Though discouraging, the young engineers didn't let it get to them. "I feel like what they said doesn't affect us," 10-year-old Elijah Goodwin said. “When you are a good team,” he added, “people are going to hate you for being good and I think what people say can make you greater.”
Lisa Hooper, the team's coach, shared a Facebook post, explaining how proud she is of her students. "It has been an exciting journey," she said, focusing on the positive instead of the hateful comments. She did, however, comment on her reasoning why the team was targeted. “For the most part, the robotics world is kind of a white world,” Hopper told the Star. “They’re just not used to seeing a team like our kids. And they see us and they think we’re not going to be competition. Then we’re in first place the whole day and they can’t take it.”
On Saturday, a GoFundMe page was created to help raise money for the Panther Bot's travel expenses for future championships. The page has surpassed its $8,000 goal, bringing in more than $12,000. Aside from raising money in record timing, the page also has an endless amount of inspiring, supportive comments from people paying no attention to the anti-Latino hate that was shown towards the team. Officials at Plainfield High School where the students won said they were unaware of the racist comments, but referred to it as "disheartening and unacceptable"