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the company liked best. So the Japanese were tolerated and permitted to stay. Gradually the merchants and residents of Cutbank perceived the amiable nature of the Japanese and began to like them. A few years later the Japanese, dissatisfied with the treatment of the company, went on a strike.
Then the railway company threatened to discharge all Japanese and substitute Greeks and Italians. Alarmed by this, the people of Cutbank petitioned the railway company to retain the Japanese, who they knew were much more desirable than either Greeks or Italians. What a radical change a few years of contact with the Japanese brought upon the sentiment of the residents of the Montana town!
I have chiefly dealt with my personal observations, and those of Americans and Japanese who personally handled the Japanese railroad labourers. We may for a moment turn to public documents. The Reports of the United States Immigration Commission have this to say: "With few exceptions, the Japanese are preferred to the Greeks, who are invariably ranked the least desirable section hands, because they are not industrious and are intractable and difficult to control. As between Japanese and Italians, opinion is fairly evenly divided. The same may be said of them and the Slavs." Professor Jenks, who was a member of the Immigration Commission, corroborates the above statement in these words: The road masters and section foremen generally prefer the Japanese either to Italians, Greeks, or Slavs as section hands. In railway shops they are given a higher rank than the Mexicans, Greeks, and at times than the Italians.” As to wages, the reports inform us that the Japanese are paid just as much as any white man employed in the same capacity.
The third important group of Japanese labourers, from the numerical point of view, is domestic workers, numbering some 15,000. Of late Japanese of this class have been made targets of scathing criticisms, some of which are not without ground. As an example of such criticisms, I quote the following from the pen of a writer who apparently prefers to be interesting rather than truthful:
“From the earliest ripple of the Japanese invasion, there came a lot of adventurous boys, eager either to grasp a fortune out of the Land of Opportunity or to learn European ways and industrial methods that they might go back to Japan and practise them. Their ambition, their desire to get on, were commendable; their methods of gratifying that ambition, contemptible. For they were no more honest, no more faithful to their contracts, than the farming Japanese. ... Curious, enterprising, industrious, taking every means to get ahead, they came to impress the city-dwelling Californian as a nuisance."
There is in the temperament of this writer something radically different from the generosity, large-heartedness, and tolerance which I believe constitute the quality of the true American. I am, however, inclined to agree with him that the Japanese does not make an ideal seryant like the Chinese. I am glad of the fact, and hope the time will soon come when no American will employ any Japanese as servant. Domestic work is not man's work. No ambitious, aspiring, restless race can produce ideal men-servants.
The trouble is that Japanese servants are yet much in demand. Except in certain sections of California, where constant anti-Japanese agitation has made them intractable, they are still regarded as desirable domestic workers. If they are somewhat independent and are
get on," the white servants are much worse. From my personal experience I can understand why so many Americans prefer "unreliable" Japanese boys. Since I made my home in this country, I have employed servants of various nationalities and races-Japanese, Danes, Poles, Swedes, Americans, etc., and I do not know but that the Japanese boy is the best worker we have had. When we engage a white girl we ask if she can cook. She answers in the affirmative, and we fix her wages accordingly; but when she comes to work we find her culinary abilities so limited that at the end of each meal we have to breathe a sigh of relief. The worst of it is that she never admits her ignorance and persistently declines to ask the “lady of the house” how things should be done. The Japanese boy, if inexperienced, at least tries to do his best, poring over his cook book and watching what the mistress does. His earnest efforts are all the more commendable because in most cases housework is not his permanent occupation, but only a means for attaining his end of receiving higher education. The white girl is indifferent and would think of her beaux and the dance and dress, rather than study the art of housekeeping, an art which she will have to practise through her life. We engage her upon the understanding that she is to stay with us for a certain time, but her promise is of little worth. A factory offers a better wage or a store promises shorter hours, and she leaves us on a moment's notice.
But we must not strive to behold the mote in others' eyes, when there may be the beam in our own. We can be lenient with our servants when we consider that our own daughters, if unfortunately placed in a similar position, may do exactly as the girls whom we are at times inclined to consider a nuisance. The chief fault of the
censor of Japanese domestic labourers is that he expects Japanese to be superhuman-something infinitely better than any white servant.
There seem to be two classes of Japanese domestic workers. One consists of so-called “schoolboys,” who work short hours and have the privilege of attending school. Sometimes the schoolboy works all day and receives a full wage, but his housework is only a means to gratifying his ambition to enter school. The other class consists of labourers, pure and simple, who cherish no ambition to receive higher education. Where a Japanese works full working day his wages vary from $35 to $45 per month, the average being much higher than wages paid female whites in similar occupations. The statement especially concerns the Pacific Coast and should not be applied to other sections without some qualifications.
If we are bent upon finding fault with the Japanese, volumes may be written. But fault-finding is neither edifying nor profitable. "Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." But there are people who revel in finding fault. To such people even those qualities which would constitute a virtue in an American must, if found in a Japanese, appear reprehensible. “I do not want to see,” says Senator Boynton of California, " Japanese own a foot of land in California. If they come here only to work for us, it will be all right." Yes, it would be all right for the senator if the Japanese remained for ever in a state of serfdom. But the clarion note of the Declaration of Independence rings clear in our ears: "All men are created
CALIFORNIA AND THE JAPANESE
S late as 1883 a popular American writer, who evidently cared to excite laughter rather than
provoke thought, dubbed California “ a country where the places are all saints and the people are all sinners.” What glowing tribute would this very writer have paid the Golden State had he lived to witness the unparalleled progress which she has achieved within the past few decades. Instead of disparaging her so impudently as he did, he would have inscribed to her the words of Bishop Berkeley :
“Westward the star of empire takes its way:
The first four acts already past,
The noblest and the last!” Not only has California astonished the world with the rapidity of its material progress, but it is marching abreast with the most advanced States in the Union in the field of learning and arts. Her higher institutions of education are the pride of the nation, and even in arts and music she has made remarkable records. In legislation and administration she is one of the most progressive States. The marvellous feat which San Francisco achieved in the wake of the earthquake and conflagration which smote her in 1906 is but an indication of the tremendous energy and unequalled enterprise with which the Californians are endowed.