Having worked in “inner-city” schools for 5 years, I have personally experienced the barriers, challenges, and obstacles which we encounter as educators when it comes to connecting with our youth, especially our black youth.
On Thursday April 14, 2016 I came across a video on LinkedIn thanks to Danielle Lucido. This video consists of one of my favorite inspirational and influential figures, Dr. Eric Thomas. After being interrupted on several occasions, and out of nothing but pure love, Dr. Thomas feels the need to sincerely express his heartfelt message with a room full of high school students at Vashon High School in St. Louis, MO.
In this video, Dr. Thomas makes time to hit on many important points. Some of these points which he shares with both students and faculty include: the importance of taking care of the few people who actually care about us, being disrespected by his own kind whenever he comes back to speak at black schools, and being embarrassed by how people perceive our black youth.
Dr. Thomas mentions that while pursuing his Ph.D, he was embarrassed when his colleagues and professors would ask him, “What’s wrong with our urban schools?” and “What’s the problem in the school system?” He then brings up the fact of how resilient we are as black people and how our only true setback is due to a lack of effort. “You can’t take our people from Africa, put us in a diaspora, spread us all over the world, and we survive slavery yet we can’t pass a test” says Dr. Thomas, “Have you lost your mind? We are survivors! That’s all we do is survive!”
After offering up his very inspirational and moving message, he then challenges our black youth to go to class, sit down, listen, pay attention, and get an education. “You know how to sit down and shut up” says Dr. Thomas, “You do it when you’re watching videos.”
Despite all of the obstacles and setbacks Dr. Thomas had to encounter prior to achieving his B.A. and then his Ph.D, he did it anyway. “Win, lose, or draw…don’t die not trying” says Dr. Thomas. Keep pushing, keep pushing!
(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Educator, and Music Publisher. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.