Thursday, August 03, 2006

Chinaman, Laundryman

"Chinaman!" "Laundryman!"
Don't call me "man"! I am worse than a slave.
Wash! Wash! Why can I wash away the dirt of
others' clothes, but not the hatred of my heart?
My skin is yellow, does my yellow skin color the clothes?
Why do you pay me less for the same work?
Clever boss! You kno whow to scatter the seeds
of hatred among your ignorant slaves.
Iron! Iron! Why can I smooth away the wrinke of
others' dresses, but not the miseries of my heart?
Why should I come to America to wash clothes?
Do you think Chinamen in China wear no dresses?
I came to America three days after my marriage:
When can I see her again?
Only the Almighty Dollar knows!
Dry! Dry! Why do clothes dry, but not my tears?
I work twelve hours a day.
He pays fifteen dollars a week.
My boss says: "Chinaman, Go back to China, if you
dont' feel satisfied! There, unlimited hours of
toil: Two silver dollars a week.
If you can find a job."
Thank you, Boss, for you remind me I know bosses
are robbers everywhere?
Chinese boss says, "You Chinaman, me Chinaman,
come to work for me.
Work for your fellow contryman!
By the way, You 'Wong', me 'Wong', Do we not
belong to the same family! Ha! Ha! We are cousins!
O yes! You 'Hai Shan', me 'Hai Shan'
do we not come from same district?
O come work for me, I will treat you better:
Get away from here! What is the difference
when you come to exploit me:
"Chinaman!" "Laundryman!" Don't call me Chinaman
Yes, I am a "Laundryman"! the Workingman"
Don't call me "Chinaman," I am the Worldman.
"Chinaman!" "Laundryman!" All of you workingmen!
Here is the brush made of study,
Here is the soap made of action.
Let us all wash with the brush!
Let us all press with the iron!
Wash! Brush! Dry! Iron!
Then we shall have a clean world.

H.T. Tsiang from the Daily Worker, Aug. 15th, 1928

I got the CD of Ruth Crawford Seeger's music on the Naxos label the other day. It is quite good. Years ago I played the piano part for the Two Ricercari, it was an important experience for me. This is the text of the second one. The other is another harrowing poem by Tsaing, Sacco, Vanzetti. Crawford-Seeger's setting is very fine work.

Consider this my comment on the minimum wage issue.

What a great little poem/essay!

Got to watch it thought, the source? The Daily Worker! The next thing you know the right will call you Commie Man! Dirty Hippy! Clean your clothes dirty Hippy!
I'll have to post the other poem.

The point about the name "The Daily Worker" being disreputable is an interesting one. "Worker" is so much less respectable than "Wall Stree", our media certainly seems to think so. Just this morning as I was making coffee and "Market Report" started playing "We're In the Money", I remembered what Jim Hightower said about how there is no place with a "Labor Report", not even on public radio.

Well, I'm proud to be able to repost the insights of our political forebearers and glad that some people think it's worth reading. Thank you for your comment.
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