By Guest Columnist PATRICK MEDLEY, Sr., dean of students at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School
“I find it important that I send a message from my office addressing the recent issues regarding police across our nation and incidents that have led to seven senseless deaths (two citizens and five uniformed police officers). I ask that we pray for all of the families involved, our nation, and countries around the world.
Violence has shown us through history to be among the least effective ways to create change. I submit that communication and the willingness to accept others as human beings and children of God are simple ingredients toward dealing with our differences. Please be reminded that despite media outlets of all sorts, people are generally good natured. There are millions of great police officers and millions of great citizens. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to hear or see much about the relationships that are working.
I challenge you to seek out the good news and spread positivity whenever and wherever you can”.
My name is Patrick Medley, Sr. Above is the message that I sent to the staff, faculty, and students at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School where I serve as dean of students. I happen to be a 47 year-old black man born in the South where brutality, violence, and murder unfortunately is not news to me and many of those who look like me and happen to be of the same gender. I have decided to take my own advice when I challenged our community to seek out the good news and spread it. Before I do this, I think it is significant to bring you inside my world knowing that you may never fully understand.
I’m going to break a silent code of many black men and go against what we have been taught for too many years because of what I truly believe has been a survival skill and defense mechanism. I must admit that it takes a huge burden off of my 6-foot 5-inch 240-pound back when I admit to you that every time I see or hear about a black male being murdered it hurts and it kills a small part of me.
Murder and violence, regardless of race, is painful. But, I believe communication and acceptance can go a long way toward reversing the attitudes of humans and enabling concrete change. I broke the black male code with you because I’m wise enough to know that similar strategies yield similar results. I also believe that if we are willing to break our silence, we will all benefit and have a safer and more enjoyable world.
Let’s face it – this environment has to be somewhat uncomfortable for all of us. What to make of the protests in Atlanta and other cities around the country? But what really matters are the actions we take each and every day. This is why I am extremely grateful to be a part of Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School, an educational community that dares to bypass status-quo educational methodology and devise a proven strategy that chips away gradually at what I feel to be the core of racial disparity on local, state, federal, and global levels – economic balance, opportunity, and a reasonable standard of living among all races.
At Cristo Rey, we are part of the solution. We are the good news. As are the over 90 Atlanta companies, including Delta, Alston & Bird, UPS Capital, The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, who all hire our students to work in their offices during the school year.
In just three years we have managed to assemble a loving, caring community committed to producing results that prove students and adults from all racial and economic backgrounds can and are working together right here in the heart of Atlanta. We are working so hard to make a difference that it brings personal joy when I actually take time to think about it. God knows that I can appreciate some joy despite what goes on around me. I’m sure you can too.
Thank you so much for taking time to read my commentary and allowing me and Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School into your world. Should you get a chance, please stop by and see us. We will be happy to share some good news!