It may be 2019, but racial discrimination is still a huge issue in this country. And in one recent egregious example, a Kansas student was reportedly told she was “too dark” to participate in one of her dance team’s performances. On January 20th, ABC News reported that Camille Sturdivant, who graduated from Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park in May, is suing her school district over prejudiced remarks from her dance team’s coach and choreographer. Sturdivant was one of two black girls on the school’s “Dazzlers” dance team, and in her lawsuit, she claimed that the team’s choreographer, Kevin Murakami, and the coach, Carley Fine, kept her from performing in a July 2017 show.
According to the Kansas City Star, Sturdivant alleged that at the time, Murakami said “her skin was too dark and the audience would look at her and not the other dancers.” She also alleged that he said her skin color “clashed” with the costumes.
Sturdivant’s suit claims that later, shortly before she graduated, she saw a text message exchange between the choreographer and Fine. The two were allegedly discussing Sturdivant winning a spot on the University of Missouri’s “Golden Girls” dance team. And Fine reportedly suggested that Sturdivant had only gotten the spot “Bc she’s f*cking black.”
ABC News notes that Fine was fired the next day and forbidden from being on school property, but Sturdivant alleges that she has seen the former coach at the school since then. She also said that after Fine was fired, the other team members excluded Sturdivant from events—including an end-of-year banquet. Her suit seeks an unspecified amount of damages and names Blue Valley Unified School District, Fine, school principal Amy Pressly, and the parent of another team member as defendants.
In a statement to ABC News, the district said:
It’s appalling that this took place, and we’re wishing Sturdivant the best as she pursues this lawsuit. Winning her case can’t undo the damage this experience undoubtedly caused, but it will hopefully set a precedent so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future.