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DC mayor awards grant for NASA contest to black teenagers targeted by 4chan users

DC mayor awards grant for NASA contest to black teenagers targeted by 4chan users

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has awarded a $4,000 grant to three black teenagers after the group became the target of a racist troll campaign by 4chan users.

India Skinner, Mikayla Sharrieff and Bria Snell are the only all-black female team in a high school science competition run by NASA. Bowser gave the teens a grant to allow them to continue work on their invention, a filter to purify lead-tainted water in school drinking fountains. 

“Mikayla, India and Bria are reminding us that the good in our world is stronger than the hate, and we want them to know that the District has their back,” Bowser said in a newsletter, according to The Washington Post.

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“[They] are just the type of people and scientists our world needs more of and we are proud to support their dreams,” she added in a statement.

The team, one of eight finalists in the competition, was quickly gaining support in the online voting phase of the competition when users from the website 4chan began bombarding them with racist comments and urging other users to interfere with the voting process.

NASA responded by abruptly ending the public voting phase of the competition and issuing a statement condemning the 4chan users. The website is known to be a haven for white supremacists.

“Unfortunately, it was brought to NASA’s attention yesterday that some members of the public used social media, not to encourage students ... but to attack a particular student team based on their race and encourage others to disrupt the contest and manipulate the vote, and the attempt to manipulate the vote occurred shortly after those posts,” NASA said in a statement on Thursday.

“NASA continues to support outreach and education for all Americans, and encourages all of our children to reach for the stars.”