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Black Teen: My Ex-Coach Wrote Text That 'Sickened' Me

Camille Sturdivant's suit says she was told she was 'too dark' to dance, faced retaliation for complaining
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2019 8:03 AM CST
Camille Sturdivant is suing her former school district and dance coach.   (Getty Images/aceshot)

(Newser) – What should have been one of the best years of Camille Sturdivant's life turned into one that left her "sickened." That's per a lawsuit the African-American teen has filed against her former Kansas school district, an ex-dance coach there, and others after she says she was kept from dancing due to her skin color, then retaliated against when she and her family pushed back, BuzzFeed reports. Per the Kansas City Star, Sturdivant, who graduated last May and was one of two black girls on the 14-member Dazzlers dance team at Overland Park's Blue Valley Northwest High School, says she was told in July 2017 by dance choreographer Kevin Murakami that her dark skin would draw attention away from other dancers in a contemporary dance performance, and that "her skin color clashed with the color of the costumes," notes her suit, which seeks unspecified damages.

The suit adds Sturdivant's parents met with the principal and were told coach Carley Fine had the final say in who performed. Sturdivant then says in her complaint that she got news she'd made the University of Missouri dance team, shortly after which she says she found texts between Murakami and Fine apparently complaining about her success. "Bc she's f---ing black. I hate that," Fine texted, per the suit; Fine was fired by the school district the next day after Sturdivant's parents and the school principal were shown the texts. Sturdivant's suit also notes she was left out of a team dinner and group photo. Fine, meanwhile, sent a statement to FOX4 saying she'd been advised by her lawyers to not say much, though she notes many of the allegations about her "are false and/or misleading" and that "in no way would I ever want to cause pain, distress, or concern." (Read more lawsuit stories.)

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