Speaker tells St. Louis students to do better: ‘The only kids that disrespect me are black kids’

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Motivational speaker Eric Thomas was giving a speech at Vashon High School in St. Louis when things took a turn.

Thomas was telling his life story, in which he dropped out of high school and was homeless for a time before he met a preacher and was able to turn his life around. However, as he was speaking, a group of students began talking and ignored his requests to quiet down. That’s when Thomas went in on the students about respect and caught everyone’s attention.

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Thomas began by saying he usually got paid $50,000 to $100,000 for corporate speeches and that he had decided to speak to the students for free to make a difference in the community.

“When people love you, you don’t do them like dirt. When people care for you, don’t disrespect them. You ain’t got but a few people who care about you in this world. Didn’t you hear what I just said? If you’re in the wrong place, you’re going to get shot and killed. No one is going to jail for it,” he said.

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He continued, “You got the nerve to act the fool when somebody cares about you? You’re talking when I’m talking. Do you know that if I go to a Jewish school, those kids are quiet. If I go to a white school, those kids are quiet. If I go to a Latino school, those kids are quiet. The only kids that disrespect me are black kids.”

“That’s it, my own, are the only ones who disrespect me. I work in any other school and they’re taking notes. I come home, you’re talking. You’re capping jokes. You think something is funny. Look how we’re living. Ain’t nothing funny. Ain’t nothing funny y’all.”

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But Thomas’ speech didn’t leave it there.  He continued by telling students that as descendants of slaves, they had instincts for survival and achievement.

“They think you dumb, you ain’t dumb.  You take take our people from Africa, spread us all over the world and we survive slavery and we can’t pass a test? Come on!” Thomas said to audience applause.

“We are survivors,” Thomas said. “That’s all we do is survive.  I challenge you to…do your best. I challenge you.”