We Chinese Women
April 11, 1912 — Banquet in honor of La Reine Helen Baker, Portland Hotel, Portland OR
This speech was translated from Chinese and delivered by the speaker’s daughter Bertie Chan.
In England, where class distinction is virtually eliminated among the suffragists, and the possessor of millions associated with the poorest women of the slums, I have never known the lines to be so completely obliterated that Chinese women and English women participated in the same social function.
We Chinese women have much to be thankful for towards our American neighbors.
You sent your missionaries to our country and they told us about the destiny and the equality of man and held up before us the highest of ideals. You opened up with avenues of commerce our closed confines and made it possible for our people to get in touch with the outside world, and by observing the various customs and people there, to better our customs and our government. But we have taken one step ahead of you. You have brought us the truths of the rights of man and we have put them into practice by granting our women the ballot, thereby placing them upon an equality with men, while you are yet trying to convince your men of this right.
In this way the Chinese have shown themselves more progressive than the whites. When they threw off the yoke of Manchu tyranny and of the old vogue, they threw it off completely and adopted in their entirety the principles of truth and freedom. . .
But we have taken one step ahead of you … while you are yet trying to convince your men of this right …
Oregon is now bounded on four sides by states that have recognized the rights of women. On the north there is Washington, on the east there is Idaho, on the south there is California, and far away, across the waters on the west, there is China. I hope the time is not far off when Oregon herself will take her place among them.
Source: “Chinese Women Dine With White,” Oregonian, April 12, 1912, p. 16.