Raysean Love, guest writer
Thursday, Jan. 24, I witnessed an electric evening. The shock I felt when I listened to the guest speaker made me challenge my own deeply held prejudices and biases. She used fitting wording and described happenings using precise language in order to affect the perception of her listeners and aid them in challenging their deeply embedded destructive hatred—fitting for a presentation titled “The Power of Language Part Two.” She spared no one, and that was a good thing. Why? Because those who felt the speaker’s blows knew that the blows were not to hurt them, but to heal them. The speaker’s name? Meta Commerse.
Meta would describe herself as “an educator and lifelong writer, born from a family of teachers and artists.” She is a graduate of Goddard College in Vermont. There she earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. A native of Chicago, Meta is from a “social action tradition.” But her social action is of a different sort. She doesn’t approach those in need of help as broken victims, but as whole beings who need to be reminded of their wholeness. But that takes work.
On Thursday night, those in attendance in Cannon Lounge got to experience Meta’s healing work as she discussed and examined Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” She used a projector to present visual images to the onlookers; she mixed personal stories with factual happenings to illustrate her points, and she opened the discussion up to questions and comments from the audience. After an activity in which members of the audience closed their eyes and activated their seven chakras, led by Meta’s instruction, Meta allowed the audience to open up and tell their individual personal narratives, which Meta says helps to heal “the deeply embedded, historic harms of hatred.”
Alumni Relations Director Rodney Lytle was in attendance, and he shared a touching story of how he endured times of blatant racial discrimination, telling listeners in the room what it felt like to sit at the back of the bus simply because of the color of his skin, and the difficult living conditions he faced growing up in the hood, reminding everyone in the room where we’ve been and where we are as a nation in terms of racial relations.
Meta gave young listeners hope that, if they were to heal their hidden wounds carved by hatred, they could lead their respective communities, and ultimately the nation, towards honest and healthy race relations.
Meta captivated her audience’s hearts and minds with the power of words. She described the human condition, specifically the condition of minority Americans, “through astute, liberating insights and paradigms of holistic education.” Everyone, regardless of skin color, was affected and touched by her display and discussion.
I remember sitting in the front row at the end of Meta’s discussion. I was just sitting, watching people, thinking. I had the feeling that something had shifted in the room. The mood of the room, once filled with a static, dead energy now felt like it was filled with a dynamic, healing energy. I glanced over at Meta, only to catch her smiling. I got up and gave her a hug, thanking her for her presentation. She just laughed happily and smiled. Now I knew a shift had occurred, if not in the room as a whole, it had occurred in my soul. Walking out of Cannon, hearing some of the conversations taking place among the students, faculty, and members of the Asheville community, telling one another about their personal narratives and reflecting on the phenomenal evening, I was convinced that Commerse, her whole being, was a gift to the earth and to the human experience. That Thursday evening was electric, indeed, and I, till this day, am still feeling the shock.