Camille Sturdivant spent years dancing with her high school’s dance team without knowing how some members of the team truly felt.
The teen dancer says that she was discriminated against, due to the color of her skin. Sturdivant is African American, and at the time of the incident, she was a senior at Blue Valley Northwest High School. Sturdivant says that during that year, the atmosphere began to shift.
During the year 2017, Sturdivant says the Dazzler’s choreographer told her that she couldn’t participate in the team’s contemporary dance performance. The reason, she said, was because her skin was “too dark.” According to Sturdivant, the team’s choreographer, Kevin Murakami, thought her skin was too dark and would clash with the outfits of the team. After being told that, Sturdivant told her parents, and her parents notified the school. Blue Valley Northwest High School followed up on the incident but ultimately allowed for Murakami to make the final decision.
Murakami did, however, come up with a response.
“I’m half Japanese and also gay. My family has experienced racism, so I was raised to be open and to appreciate all races, genders, sexual orientations, and cultures,” Murakami said. “I am not a racist, and I never commented on Camille’s skin color. These accusations are untrue and are extremely damaging.”
BuzzFeedNews reports that the dancer finished out the rest of the year on the team, but claims that things didn’t get better for her. Apparently, her coach, Carley Fine, showed extreme animosity towards Sturdivant. Sturdivant says the bulk of animosity came when Fine discovered her acceptance to dance on the University of Missouri’s Golden Girls dance squad.
While playing music from Fine’s phone, Sturdivant found a disturbing thread of text messaging. In the messages, both she and Murakami confessed their dislike of Sturdivan’t success. “Bc she’s fucking black. I hate that,” one message read.
Again, the dancer and her parents took the news to the school. This time, the school came made sure to deliver actions. Fine was fired, but as result, the high school dancer, who’s now a freshman in college, faced backlash from the rest of the team. Sturdivant states that she saw exclusion from team events educational benefits.
As a result, Sturdivant has filed a federal lawsuit against Blue Valley Schools in Overland Park, Kansas, the high school principal, the former dance coach, and a parent of a former teammate.
As for her old high school, they had this to say:
“Respectful and meaningful relationships between staff and students are at the heart of Blue Valley’s culture. Discrimination of any kind has no place here,”
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