A Couple Tried To Destroy The Wrong Person’s Career. Then They Refused To Apologize For Their Mistake.

April Sellers was an up-and-coming dancer and choreographer in Minneapolis, MN. That is, until her name was falsely smeared by a couple who mistook her for a different April Sellars.
Jinah Parker was celebrating her interpretive dance production titled “SHE, A Choreoplay,” which debuted off-off-Broadway and included four women dancing and discussing sexual abuse. But on October 21, 2017, Parker and her husband – producer, author, and former “The Real World” cast member Kevin Powell – discovered that not everyone was a fan of the show. Powell has a history of domestic violence against women, which he mentions in his public speaking engagements. In his memoir, “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight,” Powell acknowledged that he could become violent again.
In a Facebook post and in an email to the couple, a woman referenced this past while criticizing Parker’s play.
“You are being a hypocrite. How can you present a message via dance on sexual violence, but knowingly choose to marry an admitted woman beater?!” the woman wrote. “Kevin Powell admits that he can relapse into violence. Don’t be deceived and trade your safety for someone who can assault you.”
The email was signed: “April Sellers.”
Parker and Powell Googled the name April Sellers and found a woman with the name in Minneapolis where they lived. The woman ran a business called the April Sellers Dance Collective. The couple assumed this woman, described by City Pagesas a 43-year-old “anarchist queer feminist known for avant-garde expressions of body politics,” and assumed she must have been the same April Sellers who sent the critical email.
Two weeks after the received the email, Powell wrote a 1,200-word email and blind copied to numerous local media outlets and art centers, as well as the Minneapolis NAACP, and others. It read, in part:
“For you, as a so-called progressive White woman, to think it’s okay to send a note like that to a Black woman, about her relationship with her Black husband, speaks to a kind of racist privilege and racist condescension deeply steeped in the history of this country.”
The couple called Sellers’ messages "hateful, racist, sexist, mean-spirited, disrespectful, and so much more,” according to the Star Tribune.
Sellers – the choreographer in Minneapolis who received the email response – was shocked and confused.
“I wanted right away for anyone who might have gotten it to know it wasn’t me. I didn’t do it,” Sellers told City Pages. “More than anything, I wanted to engage.”
Sellers replied to the email less than two hours after it was received, and claimed the couple were mistaking her for someone else. Neither Parker nor Powell responded to any of Sellers’ attempts to clear her name.
Sellers withdrew from the art community for fear of how she had been portrayed. A month after she received the open letter from Parker and Powell, she ran into Star Tribune art critic Rohan Preston at a restaurant. Preston asked how Sellers was doing, as the two had a friendly relationship, and she cried.
A year after she was publicly shamed for something she didn’t do, Sellers hired a lawyer and threatened to sue Parker and Powell if they didn’t retract their letter and apologize for defaming Sellers. The couple refused and hired a lawyer of their own. So, Sellers followed through on her lawsuit.
The April Sellers who actually wrote the Facebook post and email to Parker and Powell was found by the mistaken Sellers’ attorney, Aaron Mills Scott. This April Sellers – April Maria Sellers – lived in Cleveland, Ohio, and was a fan of Powell’s work, but also is an activist focusing on domestic violence.
April Maria signed an affidavit stating she had written the original email. This did not result in an apology to the other April Sellers from Powell and Parker. Instead, the couple attempted to blame Preston, the art critic, for the mistake.
Powell claimed in a deposition reviewed by City Pages that Preston trashed Sellers the choreographer, noting she had “a history of trafficking in black culture” and could be a “loose cannon with her voice.” Powell claimed Preston gave him examples of Sellers’ racism.
Preston testified at the trial for Sellers’ lawsuit that this was not true.
“I was certainly dismayed by what he ascribed to me,” Preston told City Pages. “About being lied on, frankly. That he would essentially try to use my credibility to pawn off his mistakes.”
In court, Preston disputed Powell’s claims by saying he was at his daughter’s volleyball game when Powell called and didn’t speak to him much. He said Powell vented and Preston suggested he make sure he’s right about Sellers.
The couple claimed in court that they did nothing wrong in sending the email blasting the wrong April Sellers and claim Preston is a liar. When Sellers’ attorney gave his closing statements, Powell, according to City Pages, stuck his fingers in his ears.
The jury awarded Sellers $210,000, about half of what she requested. Despite this verdict and the affidavit from April Maria, the couple never apologized for what they did to April Sellers.
Instead, they started a GoFundMe to raise money for their legal bills.
“I also need funds for a possible and absolutely necessary appeal,” Powell wrote. “Here we are in a majority White city and state, Minneapolis, Minnesota, two Black folks from New York City, going up against a White woman with an all-White jury. You can only imagine our trauma around this situation.”
Further, Powell told City Pages that proof didn’t matter, only a history of racism in America.
“Regardless if we had proof or not, what we do have proof of is the historical reality of being a person of color in America and having people talk to you in any kind of foul way and thinking it’s okay, even in the state of Minnesota that’s supposed to be liberal and progressive,” Powell said.
Not only did they defame a white woman, but they attempted to blame a black man – Preston – for their mistake while remaining adamant they had done nothing wrong.
A Couple Tried To Destroy The Wrong Person’s Career. Then They Refused To Apologize For Their Mistake. A Couple Tried To Destroy The Wrong Person’s Career. Then They Refused To Apologize For Their Mistake. Reviewed by Your Destination on January 29, 2019 Rating: 5

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