Martha Mutale: “I learned from my ancestors to always speak the truth. I go to bed every night anxious about how to house my caseload of people, how to combat microaggressions, how to enjoy my life with my partner, how to stay present even though I want to imagine a world without this much chaos, violence, and neglect.”
I’ve always had a difficult time fitting in; never knowing where I belong in social circles. I have recently come to terms with the notion that I will always be a drifter… floating from crowd to crowd. Nevertheless, a pill I have yet to swallow is how hard it can be to date as a young Black woman.
The Nova Scotia Advocate has always been honoured to publish the amazing writing of Angela Bowden. We did a long interview to mark the publication of her first poetry collection, Unspoken Truth. In the interview we explore some of the themes of her book, and how growing up Black in New Glasgow shaped her and helped her recognize the deeply traumatic impact of racism on generations of Black Nova Scotians.
Kate MacDonald: “This is not a piece about answers, about shiny times, about easy times, about success even.”
Martha Mutale on what feminism has taught her. “Growing up, I used to pray every day that I would wake up white. That shit is messed up. I thought being white would make my life easier, less complicated.”
Reading the book you get the feeling that Paris did not set out to write about racism as such. It just so happens that you cannot write about growing up Black in Nova Scotia, no matter when, no matter where, without writing about racism.
“And somebody besides me must remember how their parents did not allow Black boys and Black girls into their homes, so we had to sneak in and sneak out of their homes and their parties.” Angela Bowden wonders when white people will finally come to acknowledge all the aggression and contempt heaped upon Black Nova Scotians at the most intimate levels.
Thandiwe McCarthy: “Who defines Blackness? It seemed everyone except my family in Woodstock was white and all those people I interacted with told me I was no different from them. So what makes me Black if the people in my life say it doesn’t matter?”
Barbara Elizabeth Stewart chronicles life in Halifax during the first 66 days of the pandemic. “At first it was a novelty. There was a whiff of World War II on the home front, the sacrifice and solidarity: front line soldiers in protective gear trudging off to do the most essential and dangerous work, while civilians stayed home and did a lot with little.”
Dear Dad, I was tasked with writing you a letter. I am doing so for Father’s Day, which falls about a week after what would have been your birthday. If you hadn’t taken your own life.