Racist Hackers Sabotaged A NASA Competition To Stop Teen Black Girls From Winning

by Julie Scagell
Image via Getty Images/ Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post

The trolls were trying to rally support for other teams to stop these girls from advancing

NASA shut down public voting for a national science competition upon learning an online group of racist trolls were campaigning to vote against the only team of all black, female students.

According to the Washington Post, a group of 4chan users attempted to interfere with the public voting portion of the competition, NASA’s prestigious Optimus Prime Spinoff Promotion and Research Challenge. Team members Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner, and Bria Snell are juniors at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington and were named one of eight finalist teams after engineering a water filtration system that would purify lead-contaminated water in drinking fountains.

For those unfamiliar with 4chan, it’s an online forum where users post anonymously to boards, each with their own specific content. It’s also a place where white supremacists and misogynists are rampant, often spreading conspiracy theories and spewing racist commentary.

The trolls apparently took offense that the girls were doing well during the public voting, claiming they were only doing so because of “reverse racism” and “feminism,” so they encouraged others within the forum to vote for other contestants instead.

“NASA getting forcibly redpilled (i.e. ‘enlightened’) about minority collective voting power,” one poster wrote. Another poster said, “recommended computer programs that would hack the voting system,” NBC reported.

NASA announced they would they be closing the public voting phase early upon learning about the movement. “Unfortunately, it was brought to NASA’s attention yesterday that some members of the public used social media, not to encourage students and support STEM, but to attack a particular student team based on their race and encouraged others to disrupt the contest and manipulate the vote,” they said in a statement.

Contest winners will be announced later this month and whatever the outcome, publicly recognizing this hatred exists every time it happens and showing it will not be tolerated is a victory. Trying to take someone down because of their race or gender is vile and shows just how small some people really are.

These three girls, who are also cheerleaders for their school, don’t have time to get bogged down by a few online bullies. They plan to finish high school and go to college, pursuing careers rooted in science, the Washington Post reported.

Success is sweet.