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Black Kansas Teen Says She Was Told Her Skin Was ‘Too Dark’ To Perform With Her High School Dance Team

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.

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.

435mag: Carley Fine’s phone

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.

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.

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,”

Said Melodie.

“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,”

Mike says.

“Right now.”

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Written by Ben Acosta

Ben Acosta is an Arizona-based fiction author and freelance writer. In his free time, he critiques media and acts in local stage productions.