High School Dancer Told She Was ‘Too Dark’ To Perform And Would Take Attention Away From Other Girls
“It actually makes my stomach hurt,” the dance coach said of Camille Sturdivant in a text. “[Because] she’s (expletive) Black. I hate that.”
January 19, 2019 at 12:04 am
After suffering various forms of racial discrimination from her dance team at Kansas' Blue Valley Northwest High School, including being told she was “too dark” to perform, recent graduate Camille Sturdivant is now seeking legal justice.
According to The Kansas City Star, the lawsuit details incidents in which Sturdivant endured several acts of racism against her over the years at the hands of teammates and instructors.
Kevin Murakami, the dance team choreographer, noted the darkness of her skin and said it would distract audience members from the other girls. In a similar event, the dance team’s coach, Carley Fine, was fired for alluding to the fact that Sturdivant’s newly earned position on the Golden Girls dance team at the University of Missouri was undeserved because the young girl is Black.
“THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE,” Murakami texted Fine about the news of Sturdivant’s collegiate dance career.
“It actually makes my stomach hurt,” Fine replied. “[Because] she’s (expletive) Black. I hate that.”
The text messages were discovered by Sturdivant when she borrowed Fine’s phone to play music for the dance team. After the initial shock and hurt, the dancer showed the messages to her parents and the school's principal. Fine was fired the following day.
Despite her removal, Fine attended a banquet dinner held for members of the team. Sturdivant and her family were told the meal was canceled, Metro UK reported.
Similar signs of solidarity to Fine and opposition of Studivant continued as all of the other dancers, besides the second unnamed Black student performer, wore ribbons with Fine’s initials on them during their final performance.
In a statement observed by the Chicago Tribune, the Blue Valley School District wrote:
“Respectful and meaningful relationships between staff and students are at the heart of Blue Valley’s culture. Discrimination of any kind has no place. The District expects staff to treat all students with respect at all times, and any report that this expectation has not been fulfilled is taken very seriously. As stated in the Complaint, on May 1, 2018, Mrs. Sturdivant showed Dr. Pressly the text message between Mr. Murakami and Ms. Fine. Ms. Fine’s employment with the District was separated the following day on May 2, 2018.”
The amount of damages sought in Sturdivant's suit is unknown.
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