A Kansas dance coach discriminated against an African-American dancer because of her skin tone, according to a lawsuit which was detailed by The Root.
Now-former Blue Valley Northwest (Kan.) student Camille Sturdivant has filed a lawsuit against a Blue Valley Northwest teacher, the principal and the former dance coach at the high school, claiming that they systemically discriminated against Sturdivant and another black dancer on the team.
Here’s more from the Root on the charges brought by Sturdivant:
As the team prepared over the summer for the upcoming school year, Sturdivant’s suit claims that the team’s choreographer, Kevin Murakami, told Sturdivant that she couldn’t perform the contemporary dance with the team, explaining that Sturdivant’s skin clashed with the color of the uniforms. Murakami added that Sturdivant black skin would cause the audience to look at Sturdivant and not the other dancers.
If that wasn’t bad enough, her coach, Carly Fine, later complained when Sturdivant was named to the dance squad at the University of Missouri, where she would attend. Sturdivant was apparently chosen ahead of other former white Blue Valley Northwest dancers, which infuriated the coach. Sturdivant was able to see and capture the text messages between the coach at Murakami:
Murakami: I can’t believe Maggie didn’t make it again. I’m heart broken.
Fine: AND CAMILLE (Sturdivant) MADE MENS. I can’t talk about it.
Murakami: THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I’m so mad.” Fine: It actually makes my stomach hurt.
Murakami: haha (emoji)
Fine: Bc she’s fucking black. I hate that
Murakami: me too.
Sturdivant reported her coach’s offensive messages to school authorities, who summarily fired Fine. That inspired Sturdivant’s teammates to rally behind the deposed coach, and has set the stage for the discrimination to continue into the 2018-19 school year.
Where the lawsuit goes from here is anyone’s guess, but its filing brings to light an allegedly ugly side of Blue Valley Northwest, one of the most successful high school sports programs in Kansas. There’s nothing to say this wasn’t an isolated incident, and we all should hope it was. There’s certainly no place for it in a school environment, regardless of context.