Arts featured Racism

Three Fifths, a poem by Angela Bowden

Three fifths of a human
When they threw her down
Like an animal
Punching her on the ground, in front of everybody 
And no one made a sound.

And ⅗ s were her toddlers as they watched
In horror 
While strangers handled them
Uninvited without love.
Like a resurrection 
her trauma flowed
In a living stream 
Over the many rocks of ages
And her many stories spill out.

Because she was ⅗ s of a human 
when they drug her out of the theatre in 1946
Like an animal
Not Viola the successful businesswoman and entrepreneur that she was
No no  that's not what they saw
⅗ is what they saw

And ⅗  was the image at the NSCC 
when the  caption read “How not to ECE” and 
The door displayed a stereotype 
depicting a black mother suggestive of her inability to nurture.
⅗  will decide
if you qualify
To live or to die
Exist and survive 
Black and red became black and dead on the African roulette

And each victim is like your personal  wild card 
Today it’s not you
But that could be you
In an hour

⅗ is the weight
Of humanity’s hate
And the fraction used to debate
separating  the hue from the man
⅗ is the lie to look through tainted eyes
And somehow qualify 
the terror
That we all see!
Angela Bowden at the Walmart rally. Photo Robert Devet

Angela read this poem at the rally in support of Santina Rao, the young mother falsely accused of shoplifting at the Mumford Road Walmart and violently arrested by four police officers in front of her little children.

See also: Protesters rally at Walmart in support of Santina Rao

Angela is a frequent contributor to the Nova Scotia Advocate. She is one of the talented writers selected for this year’s Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program, offered by the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia. Angee’s voice has always been unique and vital, it’s only getting more so over time.

With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.

Subscribe to the Nova Scotia Advocate weekly digest and never miss an article again. It’s free!



  1. Thank you, Angela, for keeping this travesty alive and for bringing it to us through your art of poetry.

    Signed Carol (an fellow educator through the arts)

Comments are closed.