Media and Performances
Where Do We Go From Here?
Excerpts from Urban News,
Staff Reports, July 2018
Teacher and healer Meta Commerse leads Story Medicine classes on a weekly basis.
Commerse is a seasoned teacher and healer committed to personal and community transformation. Story Medicine is an ancient indigenous modality; this iteration blends the power of story with the generative written word, in a form Commerse describes as magnetic. Past students have found themselves compelled to tell their untold stories, leaving the experience with fresh, liberating perspectives.
According to Commerse, “racial healing” is a term introduced to the world by veteran healers whose community activism far surpassed an expose of the effects of systemic white supremacy on all who live under its influence. “We use a time-tested teaching method engaging the whole person. Our wide variety of materials is selected to make for an unforgettable class.”
The class is conducted in West African ritual space, where students will have tough conversations in heart language…and emerge changed.
Anna Helgeson interviews Meta Commerse and says of Meta that she:
is a force; a meteor created by the powerful explosion that was the black arts movement in Chicago during the 1960s. Her official bio reads: founder of Story Medicine, author, seasoned teacher, certified wellness practitioner, and healer focused deeply on issues of oppression since the early 1990s. She has worked with groups and individuals using story medicine in numerous formats. She’s a graduate of Goddard College in Vermont where she earned her MFA in fiction writing.
When local poet, Laurie Wilcox-Meyer approached Hedy Fischer, Pink Dog Creative co-owner about hosting a poetry exhibit, the two decided to pair 15 poems with 15 works of visual art.
Immigration, greed, race, religion and Donald Trump’s presidency were topics explored on the page and captured on canvas through the exhibit’s blind collaborations.
For artist Joseph Pearson, the process of creating a work inspired by a poem was a unique, challenging and introspective experience. Assigned Meta Commerse’s “Black Echoes,” the artist says he spent many nights considering the work before deciding on a representation.
Ultimately, Pearson focused on the poem’s fifth stanza to guide his work: “To be black/is to douse the flames/of your pride/constantly,/and to invent new ways/to look hatred in the face/for your child’s sake.”
Breaking the Silence
The Race Relations Station Aims for Racial Healing
By Meta Commerse
In 2015, the BBC reported on race relations in the U.S., including survey results that three-quarters of whites don’t have nonwhite friends. America might be composed of people from everywhere, yet today, as in our early history, we live apart from the “other.”
Americans were first divided by race by the slave codes instituted in Southern colonies in the 1600s. The BBC reminds us that since that era, no federal legislation has reversed racial segregation. “Why Are Cities Still So Segregated?”, an NPR program, explores this phenomenon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5FBJyqfoLM).
Asheville is promoted as a beautiful vacation destination. But visitors arrive and find a conspicuous absence of people of color at our city’s desirable spaces. Our systemic separation is uninterrupted. It leaves us chronically estranged, ignorant and perhpas even fearful of each other.