The day should have been one of glory and celebration for five fourth-graders.
The Pleasant Run Elementary students had just won a robotics challenge at Plainfield High School, and the students — new to bot competition this year — were one step closer to the Vex IQ State Championship.
The team is made up of 9- and 10-year-olds. Two are African American and three are Latino.
As the group, called the Pleasant Run PantherBots, and their parents left the challenge last month in Plainfield, Ind., competing students from other Indianapolis-area schools and their parents were waiting for them in the parking lot.
“Go back to Mexico!” two or three kids screamed at their brown-skin peers and their parents, according to some who were there.
This verbal attack had spilled over from the gymnasium. While the children were competing, one or two parents disparaged the Pleasant Run kids with racist comments — and loud enough for the Pleasant Run families to hear.
And yes, I mean in 2017 in red states, racism is expected.
“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,’ ” said Diocelina Herrera, the mother of PantherBot Angel Herrera-Sanchez.
These are minority students from the east side of the city, poor kids from a Title I school.
“For the most part, the robotics world is kind of a white world,” said Lisa Hopper, the team’s coach and a Pleasant Run second-grade teacher. “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,” she said.
The racism was always there, just under the surface. People told themselves "Well, we have a black president though, haven't we gotten past this?"
The answer of course is now it is no longer hidden. The poor kids from the school where we wall off black and brown kids, they're not supposed to win, let alone be there. They're not supposed to compete, hell they're not supposed to be allowed to compete. They couldn't have won fair and square. It has to be that they're cheating, or getting special treatment somehow.
But now the government is there to strike fear into these kids. They see people who look like them get shot, get rounded up by ICE, go to prison, get deported, go to the morgue, get put in the ground.
There's nobody on their side, and they know it. On top of everything else that you have to go through as a kid in America these days, now they have all this on top of it.
Even when they win, they lose. I know what it feels like. Believe me.
Not in Trump's America.