A group of elementary school children in Indiana were told to “go back to Mexico” after winning a local science and robotics competition.
The group from Pleasant Run Elementary School, a poorer and more ethnically diverse school located on Indianapolis’ east side, consists of mostly black and Latino children, ages 9 and 10.
When the “PantherBots,” and their parents left the competition, students and their parents were waiting for them in the parking lot.
“Go back to Mexico!” two or three kids screamed at the team from Pleasant Run and their parents, according to multiple eyewitness reports.
The altercation in the parking lot was just a continuation of the verbal attacks that took place during the competition. Earlier in the day, one or two parents disparaged the Pleasant Run kids with racist comments loud enough that the children and their parents would hear them.
Diocelina Herrera, the mother of one of the children said that the racist attacks started early in the day.
“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.”
More than 30 schools around the city competed in the robotics challenge at Plainfield High School.
Lisa Hopper, the team’s coach, was very honest in her assessment of the situation and breakdown of what participating teams usually look like.
“For the most part, the robotics world is kind of a white world. 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.”
Three weeks later, the PantherBots won at the state championships, and are now headed to the Vex IQ World Championship next month in Louisville.
“They yelled out rude comments, and I think that they can talk all they want because at the end we’re still going to Worlds,” said team leader Elijah Goodwin, 10. “It’s not going to affect us at all. I’m not surprised because I’m used to this kind of behavior.