Even fourth graders aren't free from racist remarks being directed towards them, unfortunately.
Meet the Panther Bots, a robotics team of five brilliant students from Indianapolis Pleasant Run Elementary School.
While most of us were trying to figure out what games to play when we were in the fourth grade, these students were winning robotics-challenge awards left and right. However, after winning a competition at Plainfield High School, they became targets of racist comments from other competing students. According to The Indianapolis Star, a couple of kids in the parking lot yelled "Go back to Mexico!" to the Panther Bots and their parents.
The disrespectful students had discredited their achievement by saying that they only won "because they are Mexican."
Mind you, the five-student team is comprised of Black and Latinx kids.
"They were pointing at us and saying that 'Oh my God, they are champions of the city all because they are Mexican. They are Mexican and they are ruining our country,'" Diocelina Herrera, the mother of one of the Panther Bot students, explained to The Indianapolis Star.
Thankfully, the Panther Bot team are as resilient as they are smart because their outlook on the incident is something even adults can learn from.
Ten-year-old Panther Bot Elijah Goodwin isn't going to let this experience slow him down and reminds us that our haters can be our biggest motivators.
"I feel like what they say doesn't affect us. When you are a good team, people are going to hate you for being good and I think what people say can make you greater," he told WTHR 13.The other team members also expressed to their coach, Lisa Hopper, how they are using this situation to fuel their success. "We know they are mean. We know they were jealous. We’re not going to let it bother us. One of our guys said 'to take stuff like that and let it make you stronger,'" the said.
Their Cinderalla story doesn't end there, either.
Hopper explained how triumphant these children have truly been, especially coming from a low-income school that was given a grant to develop a robotics program. "For the most part, the robotics world is kind of a white world," she said.
After the Panther Bots won the award for best robot design and engineering at the state championships, they created a GoFundMe page to turn their dreams of going to the Vex IQ World Championship into a reality. They exceeded their $8,000 goal and are now going to compete with students from all over the world next month in Louisville, Kentucky.
They're not going to let anything — not even hateful words — get in their way.
Talk about hope. Talk about perseverance.