A former dance coach at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kansas is denying he is racist after his colleague, Carley Fine, was accused of being a racist. Nonetheless, Kevin Murakami, who isn’t named in the lawsuit, which was filed by the former student, explained he is not a racist.
Murakami said in a statement, “I never even referenced the color of her skin. This is made up, and it’s absolute nonsense. I was raised to be open and to appreciate all races, genders, sexual orientations and cultures.” Murakami also noted he is gay, half Japanese and has experienced racism. See the text exchange below between Murakami and Fine, whose messages are in blue.
While Murakami didn’t make the racist comment, it doesn’t appear he had an issue with it. Murakami didn’t address the message in his statement.
ABC News reports, according to the lawsuit filed Dec. 5 in the United States District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, Camille Sturdivant was one of two Black dancers on the 14-person “Dazzlers” dance team. The site reports, “Back in July 2017, the team’s choreographer acted ‘on behalf of and in conjunction with’ the team’s coach, Carley Fine, to exclude Sturdivant from performing in an upcoming dance after allegedly making a comment that ‘her skin was too dark and the audience would look at her and not the other dancers,’ the suit state.”
Reportedly, she was also told her skin color clashed with the costumes. Her parents met with the school’s principal, Amy Murphy Pressly and they were allegedly told the couch can “pick whoever she wanted to perform in the dances.” However, Sturdivant did make the team and was allowed to dance, but said the coach was “dismissive” of her, according to the lawsuit.
In May, shortly before Sturdivant graduated, she was using her coach’s phone to play music for the dance team and claims she saw text messages above, which is about her acceptance letter from the University of Missouri and landing a spot on the school’s “Golden Girls” dance team. Fine was allegedly messaging Murakami, who, again, did not explain the text messages in his statement.
ABC News reports, “Sturdivant’s parents showed the text message exchange to the school principal, according to the suit. Fine was fired the following day and informed she could not be on school property nor have contact with Sturdivant or the other dancers, according to the suit. But Sturdivant alleges the former coach was seen several times at school and with the ‘Dazzler’ since her termination.”
The lawsuit is asking for a jury trial and is seeking an unspecified amount in “actual damages, compensatory and punitive damages.”