MEMPHIS, Tenn.– A speech that was given at Whitehaven High School on Monday appeared to be about making sure students stay on the right path, but at least one parent we talked to said it left them feeling uncomfortable.
One mother’s concerns come after a school presentation where she says Jerald Trotter, who is well known for his “Don’t lose your head, use your head” commercials in the community, talked to students about his experience in prison.
“And being in prison and his experience in prison of having to choose from having sex with a man or getting in a fight and shanking them and things of that nature,” she said.
Videos of the presentation are circulating on social media.
WREG viewed part of the presentation given to students. We do not have permission to show the video, but did see at one point Trotter telling a story to the audience about what appears to be an experience in prison saying, “You can either give me (expletive) on my (expletive) or some blood on my shank.”
The audience of students erupts and at least one can be heard saying they didn’t want to hear any more.
“I think it was inappropriate and I just don’t think it was respectful to the parent or the child,” the concerned mother said. “My child said they still don’t understand the moral to the story.”
Tuesday afternoon we spoke with Trotter, who said he wanted to shock students. He doesn’t want them to be numb to the verse, “you’re going to go to prison.”
“I completely understand why parents would be upset by this language. It’s shocking language and I gotta say I told that story without the permission of the principal,” he said. “If you talk about something extremely uncomfortable, extremely distasteful about prison then that puts a whole other shock value to it. I’m just trying to grab their attention and I would rather offend a few of them, than bury them.”
The mother said parents were never notified that the conversation would happen or the context.
“Why they didn’t even ask the parent if they had permission to talk to their child with that type of explicit language,” she said. “I can see if they identified certain students that were going down that path and had gotten permission from their parents to have those type of conversations.”
Memphis-Shelby County Schools officials said they watched the video and have released a statement saying,
“Memphis-Shelby County Schools does not condone the language used in the video. We apologize to our students, staff and families for the language used by this guest speaker.”