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The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


Too Black for Blue Valley: BVNW Under Fire


Slider image by Paige Lambert. 

Camille Sturdivant is an African-American former student from Blue Valley Northwest (BVNW). She has made multiple local headlines recently since she was kicked off her drill team dance routines for being “too black” for the costumes. Because this is a major issue involving race, Sturdivant and her parents are also filing a lawsuit against the district over this dilemma.

Sturdivant initially auditioned for the BVNW Dazzlers in 2014, however, she was cut along with the other freshman who auditioned. She auditioned again the following year and made the team. Starting her junior year, everything changed for Sturdivant.

In 2016, BVNW hired new coaches for the Dazzlers: Jenni Waters and Carley Fine. Fine graduated from BVNW two years prior and was a Dazzler during her time there. During the summer of 2016, Fine made the whole team re-audition since she and Waters were not there for the original auditions. She also encouraged multiple members of the team to take classes at Perception Dance Studio, where Fine was a dance teacher. This frustrated Sturdivant’s parents, because they did not want to have to pay a private company for their daughter to be on a school sponsored team.

Fine worked with Kevin Murakami, another former Dazzler, to help her choreograph a piece that would be performed at a national competition. That was when Sturdivant was pulled aside by Fine and Murakami. Murakami told Sturdivant that he would exclude her “…from performing in the contemporary dance because he said that her skin was too dark and the audience would look at her and not the other dancers…. [and] that her skin color clashed with the color of the costumes,” according to the federal civil rights lawsuit. She then was told that she could be the immediate alternate for the national competition if one of the other members on the team got sick or had to drop out. However, when one of the members couldn’t go, Sturdivant was told that she had to re-audition again.  In an interview for 435, Melodie Sturdivant (Camille’s Mother) says that “[she] knew in [her] heart [that Fine] was prejudiced against [her] daughter, but [she] didn’t want [her] daughter to think that people would not like [Camille] because she was black.”

Bree Katz, a former Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA)  student, used to dance with Sturdivant from 2013-2015. She says that “… the way Camille was treated was more than unfair. Not only is she such a sweet and loving person, she is such a talented dancer and she would always help me if I ever struggled with a step.”

Sturdivant hoped that her senior year would be less dramatic, yet that was far from the reality. One day, Fine handed Sturdivant her phone so that Sturdivant could play the music for the freshmen to practice with. This is where she discovered certain texts between Fine and Murakami. At the time, Sturdivant was recently accepted into the University of Missouri and made their dance team, the Golden Girls. Fine’s texts to Murakami read how she was “sick to her stomach [that Camille made the team] because she was  black”.

Texts between Fine and Murakami show how they were “sick” that Camille made the team. Image courtesy of 435 Magazine.

This instance led to the firing of Fine. Fine was also told that she no longer was able to communicate with the rest of team. In addition, Fine was told that she was no longer able to be on school property. However, Fine still kept in contact with the girls and the rest of the team through a banquet for her at Country Club Plaza, since BVNW cancelled the school sponsored banquet. The girls even wore purple ribbons with Fine’s initials on them for there spring showcase, making it appear as if Fine and Murakami were the victims in the situation.

The Blue Valley district did an investigation over the situation to see if there was any violation of Title VI. It states that “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” The case closed saying that Blue Valley did not violate the law. In Dec. 2018, Camille Sturdivant filed a Civil Rights lawsuit against Fine and the Blue Valley school District.

Camille originally tried out for the dance team at Blue Valley Northwest before being denied due to her race. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

“No one should ever have to go through what Camille had to go through, especially since school is supposed to be a place where we can grow what we love,” says Katz.

This is an extremely serious racial issue. Sturdivant’s case should be used as a reminder that there is still hatred and bigotry in the United States. The Blue Valley District suspended the team in early Jan. for not meeting district protocol. There is not an actual resolution to this case at this time, and the court date is unknown.


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