Ranking Member Johnson Statement on Racist, Sexist Interference in NASA Contest
(Washington, DC) – Last month, NASA announced the finalists for its national research challenge, OPSPARC, and opened the competition to its public voting stage. Included among the high school finalists was an all-black, all-female team made up of 17 year olds, Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner, and Bria Snell. Earlier this week, it was reported that hackers associated with the online community 4chan, a forum known for its racist and homophobic views, attempted to influence the outcome of the contest to ensure this team would not win.
Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) made the following statement.
“These young scientists have developed a method to purify lead-contaminated water in high school drinking fountains—an incredible development that will likely help many. In a national competition to advance to the finals is a remarkable feat. It is disgusting that a group of hateful, racist hackers tried to ensure that this team would not win the competition. NASA rightfully shut down public voting earlier than expected.
“In a competition that is meant to celebrate intelligent, innovative, and imaginative students and promote their educational experience, I am deeply saddened to hear that a group has been singled out based on their sex and the color of their skin. In 2018, we must encourage all students to persevere and strive to achieve their goals, no matter what obstacles attempt to stand in their way. I wish Mikayla Sharrief, India Skinner, and Bria Snell all the best. Your performance as ambitious young researchers shows your passion for science and the great success you will find. Best of luck in this competition and in your future endeavors.”
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