Kansas HS dance coach prevents Black student from performing because her skin is “too dark”
A Black high school student is suing her school district for being prevented from performing with her dance team because she is “too dark.”
According to the Kansas City Star, Camille Sturdivant states she suffered racial discrimination during her time at Blue Valley Northwest High School. In particular, she was prevented from participating with her 14-member dance team for many events because of racism. She is one of two Black dancers on the team.
Before graduating high school, Sturdivant states her dance-team choreographer Kevin Murakami told her that “her skin was too dark and the audience would look at her and not the other dancers,” and that her skin “clashed with the color of the costumes.”
The lawsuit also accuses Carley Fine, Sturdivant’s past dance coach who was fired for racist comments, of racially traumatizing her Black students.
Fine was fired when Sturdivant discovered text messages between her and Murakami discussing Sturdivant’s acceptance into the University of Missouri’s dance team. The Kansas City Star reported the conversation as followed:
Murakami writes, “THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I’m so mad.”
Fine responds, “It actually makes my stomach hurt. Bc she’s (expletive) black. I hate that.”
The school fired Fine the next day and warned that she was not allowed on school property.
However, Fine still met with the dance team many times after and attended a dance team dinner in which Sturdivant was excluded.
At the final school dance performance, all of the white dance members wore ribbons with the Fine’s initials, but Sturdivant and the other Black dancer did not.
The lawsuit is seeking damages from the Blue Valley School District, the school principal Amy Pressly, Carly Fine, a dance teammate’s parent Katie Porter, and a school district teacher.
The district said in a statement, “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.”