NASA's prestigious high school science competition includes a public voting component, so what would any high school junior use to amplify their entry? Social media, of course! That's where Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner and Bria Snell went with their amazing experiment to rack up the votes.
Things were going along swimmingly for the 3 African American girls from Washington, D.C.'s Banneker High School...their project to develop a method to purify lead-contaminated water got a lot of traction.
Enter racist assh*les, 4Chan community members. Because racists gotta racist. And destroy. So their campaign to taint the voting and change the numbers so the girls would lose was born. Luckily, though, NASA being ya know, SCIENCE-EY and stuff, it figured out something was amiss with the voting, and shut it down. So that component was removed from the competition, but no matter...
Because the girls from Banneker High School are finalists ANYWAY. Which is wonderful news, of course. Sharrieff, Skinner and Snell are thrilled and proud, and rightfully so. Their team is one of only eight that made it to the finals!
In the meantime, though, what the hell happens to the menace that is 4Chan? Nothing gets mentioned of possible charges of hate crimes or fraud. Is NASA pursuing some kind of consequences? Can the girls on the team pursue some kind of remedy if they want to? Is there a point at which racists who disrupt and cause pain - trauma, even - have to answer for the damage they do? It's not casual or minimal damage, just because the girls came out on top and the results of the competition remained unchanged.
It's real damage. Even though the right side won.