今日付の地元新聞,San Francisco Chronicleは,興味深い内容の記事と珍しい写真を掲載している。

 この記事は,1800年代半ば以降に,サンフランシスコ市が在米中国人移民の子供に対して,地元の公立小学校への入学を認めない政策に転換した,そのような移民教育の歴史について書いている。いわゆる「分離教育」(racial segregation)である。こうした分離政策は,当時,法的には黒人とインディアンだけに向けられていた。しかし,ここ来て中国人も同じ差別の対象となった。と同時に,差別はそれにとどまらず,移民政策においても,中国人の入国を一切禁止する旨の政策(1882年中国人排斥法)へと転換した。

 こうした歴史パターンは,1900年以降,在米日本人史にもそのまま当てはまる。アメリカにおける排日の歴史において,その端緒を象徴する大きな出来事は,中国人と同じく公立小学校からの日本人児童の排除(閉めだし)であった(いわゆる1906年サンフランシスコ学童隔離事件)。この事件は,1906年の大地震をきっかけに,サンフランシスコ市当局がそれまで地元のアメリカ人と一緒に机を並べて学ばせていた日本人二世の小学生を公立の小学校から閉め出し,中国人専用の特別な小学校に移す措置をとったことから発生した。この事件は,日米政府間の国際問題にまで発展し,その決着は1908年の「日米紳士協定」(Japan‐United States Gentlemen's Agreement)に辿りつく。

 私はここで,日本人移民への差別の歴史について,中国人移民と同じ道を辿ったこと述べようとしたのではない(従来の移民史研究はそのように語ってきた)。そうではなくて,戦前の在米日本人(あるいは本国の日本人一般もそうであるが)の,中国人に対する差別意識とその影響について問題にしたいのである。

 サンフランシスコ学童隔離事件は,在米日本人にあって何が問題であったかといえば,アメリカ人との差別もそうであるが,中国人だけの小学校に強制編入させられた,つまり中国人への差別意識が問題の根底にあったと思う。中国人と一緒にさせられたという「屈辱」である。こうした戦前の日本人のアジア人,中国人への差別意識,劣等民族意識は,その後のアメリカの日系移民史研究においても,大きな影響を与えてきたのではないかと,私は常々考えている。

 それは何よりも,アメリカの日系移民史(あるいは移民史研究)において,当時,同じ空間で生活していた中国人(あるいは中国人の問題)が全く出てこない,語られないという点にあられている。あるいは語られる場合があっても,在米日本人の周囲にいて日本人に賭博や売春を誘惑する貧民の悪人のようなスタイルで登場する場合が多い(歴史的史料にこの種の叙述が多いことが反映している)。こうした取りあげ方は,中国人への差別意識、あるいはその影響以外の何ものでもない。

 アメリカの日本町(ジャパンタウン)は,チャイナタウンに隣接して形成されることが多い。つまり,日本人が英語も右も左も分からないアメリカに単身で渡って,生活する場所はチャイナタウンの片隅なのであった。食生活も含めて,先に渡来したアジア移民でもある中国人に頼ったのである。オークランドも,サンノゼも,チャイナタウンの片隅に日本人が集まり、ジャパンタウンを形成した。その意味で,在米日本人の発展史において,中国人の影響は無視できない。しかし,どのような意味で影響があったか(あるいは影響し合ったか),そうした視点からの研究は日本人による日本語の研究図書・論文では皆無ではなかったかと思う。

 戦後の我々日本の研究者も,戦前の在米日本人が根底に持っていた中国人への差別というものの見方から完全に自由ではなかったと思う。少なくともそれを自覚して日系移民社会の構造をみて来たとは言いがたい。日系移民史をより豊かな内容にするためには,その反省のうえに立つことが重要である。すなわち,在米日本人史は,在米中国人との関係の歴史という視点からあらためて再構成する必要があるのではないだろうか。
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The Chinese Presbyterian Mission Church became the first U.S. church with an Asian congregation when it opened its doors in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1853. Six years later, it founded the first school in the nation to admit Chinese students.

But that landmark event did not inaugurate an enlightened educational policy toward the Chinese in San Francisco. Instead, it was a feeble exception to a long, ugly government policy of racist segregation that prevented Chinese students and other minorities from attending school with white children ? and, for 14 years, prevented Chinese students from attending school at all.

The first Chinese arrived in San Francisco around 1848. For the next several years, they were few in number and were treated reasonably well: In 1850, Mayor John Geary invited the “China boys” to march in a funeral procession for President Zachary Taylor. A judge speaking at a ceremony in Portsmouth Square said, “You stand among us in all respects as equals.”

But that brief period of goodwill soon faded. As the Chinese population swelled in the 1850s, white San Franciscans increasingly turned against the immigrants. Like most white Americans at that time, they regarded all people of color, whether “Mongolians” (a common term for Asians), blacks, Indians or Latinos, as inferior races.

During San Francisco’s first years, the question of educating the Chinese did not arise. “Race was not mentioned in the early school laws of California.” Victor Low notes in “The Unimpressible Race: A Century of Educational Struggle by the Chinese in San Francisco.”

In an 1858 editorial, the San Francisco Evening Bulletin reflected the city’s overwhelming rejection of integrated schools. “Let us keep our public schools free from the intrusion of the inferior races,” the paper opined. “If we are compelled to have Negroes and Chinamen among us, it is better, of course, that they should be educated. But teach them separately from our Caucasian blood pure. We want no mongrel race of moral and mental hybrids to people the mountains and valleys of California.”

In 1859, 30 Chinese parents petitioned the San Francisco Board of Education to open a primary school for their children. When the Rev. William Speer offered a basement room in his Chinese Presbyterian Mission Church on Stockton Street between Clay and Washington, the board agreed to open the Chinese School.

It lasted just four months and closed for supposed lack of funds, although the total cost of operating it was only its teacher’s $75 monthly salary. For the next decade, the school was reopened several times, and each time soon shut down.

The school board routinely pointed to the school’s poor attendance as a reason to end the “doubtful experiment”: Attendance was indeed low, but a big reason for that was the school’s heavy emphasis on religion, which put off students.

Meanwhile, California’s third schools superintendent, a Southern racist named Andrew Jackson Moulder, ensured that the state’s schools would be strictly segregated for decades. In 1858, Moulder blasted “mock philanthropists for forcing Africans, Chinese and Diggers (Indians) into our white schools.”

In 1860, Moulder’s beliefs became law, when the Legislature decreed that “Negroes, Mongolians and Indians shall not be allowed into public schools” and authorized local officials to penalize any school that allowed “inferior races” to mix with whites. There was no requirement that public schools be provided for the Chinese or any other nonwhite children.

In 1864, a more progressive schools superintendent, John Swett, revised the state school law to require the establishment of separate schools for Chinese under certain circumstances, but the new law had little practical effect.

In 1869, the Chinese School moved from Stockton Street one block west to Powell Street. Because Stockton Street at that time was considered the border of Chinatown, this move exposed the school’s students to so-called “rude boys,” juvenile delinquents who insulted and attacked them. Attendance dropped further.

In the 1870s, as cheap Chinese labor undercut white workers’ wages, hostility to the Chinese peaked. In 1870, the state school law was changed again, stipulating that only blacks and Indians need be educated in separate schools. The San Francisco superintendent of schools, James Denman, who had closed the Chinese School a decade earlier, now had the legal right to close it for good.

Denman did so on March 1, 1871, citing its average daily attendance of just 20 students. For the next 14 years, there would be no public school for Chinese in San Francisco.

They were denied even separate schools like those accorded to blacks and Indians, who were granted that right in 1874.

The Chinese community argued that it was grossly unfair that they had to pay taxes and yet were denied the right to send their children to public schools. In 1878, 1,300 people of Chinese descent petitioned the Legislature, arguing that the 3,000 Chinese children in the state had the right to a public education. They were supported by some clergymen, like the Rev. William Gibson, whose position so enraged anti-Chinese mobs that he was hanged in effigy twice and had the windows of his Washington Street residence smashed.


But the state took no action, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors remained adamant. “Guard well the doors of our public schools, that they do not enter,” read one of their reports. “For however hard and stern such a doctrine may sound, it is but the enforcement of the law of self-preservation, the inculcation of the doctrine of true humanity, and an integral part of the enforcement of the iron rule of right by which we hope presently to prove that we can justly and practically defend ourselves from this invasion of Mongol barbarianism.”

It took an 8-year-old girl named Mamie Tape to force the city and state to provide schools, albeit segregated ones, for Chinese. That story will be the subject of the next Portals.

Gary Kamiya is the author of the best-selling book “Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco,” awarded the Northern California Book Award in creative nonfiction. All the material in Portals of the Past is original for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: metro@sfchronicle.com

Trivia time

Previous trivia question: What was San Francisco’s first fern bar?

Answer: Henry Africa’s, which opened in 1969.

This week’s trivia question: Why was California’s first Legislature (1849-50) called “the legislature of a thousand drinks”?

Editor’s note

Every corner in San Francisco has an astonishing story to tell. Gary Kamiya’s Portals of the Past tells those lost stories, using a specific location to illuminate San Francisco’s extraordinary history ? from the days when giant mammoths wandered through what is now North Beach to the Gold Rush delirium, the dot-com madness and beyond. His column appears every other Saturday, alternating with Peter Hartlaub’s OurSF.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/How-early-SF-kept-Chinese-children-out-of-the-11074408.php