Remember Choreographed Racism?
The February issue of 435 featured a story about Camille Sturdivant, a black student at Blue Valley Northwest High School, who came forward to file a lawsuit alleging extensive racial discrimination while on the school’s dance team.
Among the unsettling details were an exchange in which the dance team’s choreographer told Sturdivant her skin tone clashed with the team uniforms; text messages where the coaches claimed Sturdivant only made her college dance team “bc she’s [expletive] black”; and the recounting of a post-season banquet that excluded Sturdivant and another black teammate but included the team’s fired coach. >>Read the full story here
After 435’s report, Sturdivant’s story was featured by USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, ABC News and CBS News, among other national outlets.
The former dance coach released a statement saying she is “anxiously looking forward to” defending herself in the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by Sturdivant and that her claims are “not the whole story.”
On February 25, Blue Valley Superintendent Todd White announced that he will retire following the coming school year.
Here’s how readers reacted to the story:
“I don’t truly have the words to express my sadness and anger for this awful situation. It makes me sick that hatred and racism still run so so deep. It’s awful that this is how Camille will remember her high school and dance team experience forever. Shame on the dance team coach, the principle of BVNW, the Blue Valley teacher and everyone else involved. And shame on her dance team for not supporting Camille, but instead choosing the dance team coach and her hatred.” —Samantha Burrow
“This made me sick to my stomach and angry for this poor family. Great reporting here, 435. I read every bit and appreciated your thoroughness. I hope the Sturdivants are able to implement real change through their lawsuit so this is not the future for any school districts in our area!” —Richelle Oades
“What makes me the most sad is that not one other student, parent or teacher has taken a stand against racism. If one adult would have stood up, think what an impact they could have had. Breaks my heart! Please teach your child how to speak out!” —Tricia Callahan Venters
“High school is supposed to be some of the best years, best memories for young people and their parents. The more I read, the worse it got. This makes for a great movie to shine a light on racism, prejudice and bias based on true story.” —Donna Reynolds Pfaff