Irritated PhD Tells Students the Problem With “Black Kids,” And It’s Exactly What They Needed to Hear

Motivational speaker Eric Thomas made it pretty clear that he’s a force to be reckoned with when he rocked the students of Vashon High School to the core last month. After being interrupted several times, he let these kids HAVE IT…but at 3:30, you’ll see why his righteous anger came out of a place of pure love—even if it is the tough kind.

Watch the viral message that has now inspired millions.

This power-packed excerpt sums up the heart of Thomas’ message:

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

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.

I have my PhD. They’re asking me what’s wrong with urban schools. I’m like why are you asking me? I’m in class just like you’re in class. The teachers and professors want to know what is the problem with the schools.

I’m embarrassed. You want to know why? What they don’t know is that you’re not even trying when you take a test. You didn’t give your best. They think you’re dumb. You ain’t dumb. We survived slavery, and you can’t pass a test? Come on!

I ain’t stupid. You take everything from us and we still survive. You want to tell me that you don’t want to learn how to write? Have you lost your mind? We are survivors. That is all we do is survive.

You can take a test. The problem is that when you do, you barely take the test. I challenge you to go in there and do your best. I challenge you to go into class and act like you have some sense. No one has to put you on medicine. You know how to sit down and shut up. You do it when you’re watching videos.

Listen to me, you’re mine.

Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.