A Black teenager dancer is suing her dance coach and others, claiming that she couldn’t perform because her skin was too dark, according to BuzzFeed News.
In her lawsuit against Blue Valley Schools in Overland Park, Kansas, the high school principal, former dance coach and the parent of a former teammate, Camille Sturdivant said that she was left out of a dance performance and the reason was because she’s Black.
Sturdivant, said that the incident, which took place when she was a senior at Blue Valley Northwest High School in 2017, occurred in July of that year. She said that her dance team’s choreographer told her she was “too dark” to do the contemporary dance routine because her skin would conflict with the costumes, per BuzzFeed.
The University of Missouri freshman alleges that when she spoke up about the issue, she faced retaliation.
“Sturdivant was excluded from school-sponsored activities and was denied the full panoply of educational benefits afforded other similarly situated members of the Dazzlers because of her race, African-American,” according to the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed.
According to the lawsuit, her parents met with the school’s principal and was told that it was the coach, Carle Fine’s, decision on who would perform. Sturdivant said that she remained on the dance team and eventually got accepted onto the University of Missouri’s Golden Girls dance team.
In her suit, she said that she noticed a text message from Fine that said that the reason she was able to get a spot on the team was ““[because] she’s fu***ng Black. I hate that.”
Fine was reportedly fired after Sturdivant’s parents showed the message to the school’s principal, writes the Kansas City Star.
“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,” the school district told the Star. “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.”
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.