A black student is suing her former high school for racial discrimination. She is alleging her dance coach and choreographer excluded her from a performance because her skin was “too dark” and would clash with the outfits, along with multiple other counts of discriminatory acts.
Camille Sturdivant, a former member of the Dazzler dance team at Blue Valley Northwest High School, says she was discriminated against by dance instructors Carley Fine and Kevin Murakami. After the exclusion from a performance in July 2017 over her skin color, Sturdivant and her parents reported the incident to the school.
It’s not a great situation.
Knowing that "because she is f***ing black" was too racist to say publicly, this choreographer somehow thought saying the student's skin color clashed with the uniform was the way to cover that racism #bullhornnotdogwhistle https://t.co/M1jVlPZuoP— Doug Allen (@dallen_critgeo) January 23, 2019
No excuse for that in today's world.— Michael G Griffey (@michaelgriffey1) January 23, 2019
Unbelievable... It's like we're back in stupid ignorant times...— Tiago Vidigal 🇺🇸⚖️🇵🇹 (@Lex_Mamilia) January 22, 2019
This is absolutely disgusting! 😡— Anna Fiorentini School (@AnnaFiorentini) January 22, 2019
At the time, they were told Coach Fine, a former Dazzler only two years removed from high school herself with no teaching degree, was allowed to choose who performs. Murakami, the choreographer, claims he never mentioned the color of Sturdivant’s skin, adding he always treated dancers with respect. While Sturdivant continued dancing with the team, Fine was “dismissive” of the dancer.
That is until near the end of the school year, when Sturdivant found out she’d earned a spot on the University of Missouri’s dance squad.
Not long after, Sturdivant was assisting Coach Fine with dance practice. The coach gave the dancer her phone to play music for the freshmen performers. While she had the phone, Sturdivant saw a conversation between Fine and Murakami.
The conversation shows Fine angry with Sturdivant making the college dance squad saying,
“AND CAMILLE MADE MENS. I can’t talk about it.”
Murakami responds with,
“THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I’m so mad”
It was here that Fine said,
“It actually makes my stomach hurt. Bc she’s f***ing black. I hate that.”
Sturdivant took a photo of the conversation and showed her parents, Melodie and Mike. They were understandably furious and brought the picture to the attention of the principal, demanding immediate action.
Fine was fired the next day.
Blue Valley Schools in Overland Park is no newcomer to mistreatment of students of marginalized groups— AntipopeGregX (@AntipopeGregX) January 23, 2019
I wouldn’t shed a tear if I heard this racist coach’s life is a living hell as a result of the lawsuit https://t.co/biqbiXv7ss via @claudiakoerner
The parents supported this. https://t.co/ftChaALd9X— 🧙🏻♀️Kelly Cosgrove🧙🏻♂️ (@UT_MAZ) January 22, 2019
Another case of a bigot that got fired & will have to go to court, coming out and saying that we are only getting one side of the story. OK then what's up with that text message you got busted on? That's what got you fired prior to even having the lawsuit!https://t.co/TizzqbA73G— Din Ese #OurHouse🌊 📎 (@dinhi45) January 23, 2019
So much for American exceptionalism. Ain't no doubt about it, a lot of people in our country are assholes..— Jim ☝🏼☝🏾☝🏾 Imfeach the Pucker Trump🌊🌊 (@JMODERATE) January 22, 2019
Black High School Dancer Told Her Skin Was Too Dark To Perform: Lawsuithttps://t.co/YA76ToOq21
Things didn’t end there. Before the spring show, a team dinner was arranged for the dancers, hosted by the family of one of the girls. The Sturdivants say they were not invited. Fine was in attendance.
Fine’s mother was backstage for the spring show which made Sturdivant feel uneasy. She texted her mother with concerns, especially since the principal was supposed to be backstage and was nowhere to be found.
At the final spring show, all the dancers except Sturdivant wore purple ribbons that had Fine’s initials on them. They were made by a dance team mom as a show of support for the former coach. After the performance, the other dancers arranged for a photo without Sturdivant.
Some of the girls posted pictures of the ribbons on social media, sharing their support of Fine.
Melodie Sturdivant said,
“That’s when my heart broke. My daughter was literally on the margins.”
“It was a slap in the face. In their mind, Carley was the victim, yet they all knew what she did.”
There is an outpouring of support for Camille Sturdivant after hearing what she endured.
They were just mad because that melanin was popping. No amount of tanning could never come close.— M&M (@MissMilika) January 23, 2019
Wow Camille is such a beautiful, gorgeous, young lady. The disrespect she had to endure from these diseased people full of hate is disheartening. Camille your skin is so magical, continue to shine bright my dear, shine bright🌟.— Roche (@Dbadderthanu) January 21, 2019
Camille Sturdivant, one of the most beautiful black cheerleaders in the state of Kansas! She deserves all praise for being a beautiful black woman! Someone… https://t.co/uJU3xc5ZXs— Ms. C. Jackson (@ThVoice1) January 20, 2019
Y’all this is our gorgeous GG Camille Sturdivant..I’m ready to fight for her 😡😤 https://t.co/Z2Errnpgrq— junie (@junieeuhh) January 17, 2019
The Sturdivants received a bit of hope when they found out the district was performing an internal investigation. However, once the district’s legal counsel interviewed the family, they grew disheartened.
“It was a farce! The attorney was making excuses for what happened when there were multiple accounts of retaliation and discrimination,”
Mike Sturdivant said of the incident.
While the district internally cleared the school, they excluded Carley Fine from future employment in the district, and banned her from appearing on school property.
Which is where this might have ended, if not for the fact Fine continued to up at a BVNW football game. The Sturdivant parents were there to watch their son play.
“It’s like what happened to our daughter didn’t matter,”
“At what point does the district start taking racism seriously?”
The Sturdivants have filed a civil rights lawsuit against Carley Fine, the principal, and the school district. They have stated that their motivation is not to get even, but to help the school reform and bring this situation to light.
“It’s time for things to change,”