[Editor: This article about kanakas in Queensland was published in The National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW), 25 April 1892.]
The black streak in Queensland.
Eight vessels are being fitted out in Queensland for the Islands on “black-birding” expeditions. In other words a colony existing under a flag alleged never to encourage slavery, is about to swarm down on these niggers, entice hundreds at a time aboard, put them into the hold, and bring them into a British territory to work for the white man at a black man’s price. Were this done by a foreign country, we would give it the proper name — slavery.
The advent of black labor in Queensland is the first nail in the coffin of Australian nationality. Imported to displace white men with white wives and white children who cannot work for less than will maintain white men, this black-blooded tide will rise and sweep down on Queensland labor, in competition swamping the Australian, depriving him of the means of earning a livelihood, eventually through their necessity mixing with the whites, intermarrying and surely staining the purity of our race. The whole of these southern colonies should rise up in their indignation, and not only protest, but prevent this dastardly attempt to blacken our national fair fame.
The proposal to introduce Kanaka labor was never made by Christian gentlemen, but by renegades, who, anxious to make fortunes by obtaining a year’s work for a sum of money that would not pay an honest white man honest wages for a month, are willing to displace their own, see Anglo-Saxon workman become idle, and Anglo-Saxon women thrown on to the world through the inability of their husbands and fathers to earn decent livings. It is a criminal and unchristian-like act — a damnable scheme evolved in the brain of a traitor to his race, and supported by men whose study of self-interest has withered national aspiration.
The Parliaments of Australia should protest against this black introduction of slavery to our very midst; the people should indignate from one end of the continent to the other; and if need be, the workers of Queensland should take the law into their own hands and fight for rights, which, despite the almost criminal silence of the church are those which God would support since humanity created, and inhumanity would seek to destroy them.
The Kanaka should never be allowed to pollute the shores of Australia; the sordid soul of the Queensland planter should never be permitted to stain the purity of our national strain of our white manhood and womanhood by the introduction for selfish reasons, of coolie labor. The black race cannot live with the white; it is against all reason to expect it; and only cruel, heartless, and unchristian men would think of enforcing it.
The free landing of Chinese nearly wrecked us ten years ago, and even now, when the celestial is able to obtain a footing here only by paying a poll tax of £100 — which practically excludes him — the evil effects of the mistake made in days gone by are seen in our capital cities, where streets are given over to these leprous mongrels of humanity, where women fall to lead the most awful of degraded lives, where little children are trained up amid vice and wretchedness, and the fringe of our race is stained by the introduction of a strain of tainted blood.
The introduction of the nigger in Queensland will do worse for us. It will create in this country the most serious of all questions affecting a nation — the purity of the race. Let us be wise by study of the experiences of others, and profit thereby. In the United Slates of America the black question has become the question. A few years ago the African was admitted to the southern States for exactly the same reason which has influenced the Queensland planter to fight for the introduction of Kanaka labor in his country. The nigger was cheap, his work remunerative and fortune-making for his barbarous master. The Carolina cotton planter fifty years ago thought only of his pocket, the future of his race never troubled him, and now America is paying the penalty of having allowed him to make his fortune at the expense of the purity of the race.
In Queensland, if this black tide be allowed to deluge the northern shores, history will have repeated itself, and though a few sugar-growers may possibly accumulate vast wealth, in fifty years’ time a national Australian parliament will be wrought over the question: How are we to purify the national blood, the sordid infamy of the past, stained and keep back the aggressive spread of a colored race?
The National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW), 25 April 1892, p. 3 (Second Edition)
black-birding = (also spelt: blackbirding) the act or practice of obtaining people from the Pacific Islands (who were known as “kanakas”) by kidnapping them, luring them with false promises, or signing them up under contracts which were of dubious value; Pacific Islanders, or kanakas, were employed as indentured labourers in various countries, such as Australia (especially in Queensland), British Columbia (Canada), Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu; in Australia the kanakas were mostly used on the sugar plantations and cotton plantations in Queensland
celestial = of or relating to China or Chinese people (the “Celestial kingdom” is an archaic name for China) (may also refer to: of or relating to the sky or outer space; of or relating to heaven; something from Heaven; something which is regarded as heavenly, or very good)
indignate = act in an indignant manner (expressing anger, offence, or outrage, due to the occurrence of something perceived as unfair, unjust, unworthy, or wrong)
the Islands = (in the context of Queensland) the islands of the Pacific ocean, especially the islands of Melanesia (which were closer to Australia than the islands of Micronesia and Polynesia)
kanaka = a Pacific Islander employed as an indentured labourer in various countries, such as Australia (especially in Queensland), British Columbia (Canada), Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu; in Australia the kanakas were mostly used on the sugar plantations and cotton plantations in Queensland; some kanakas were taken by unscrupulous “recruiters” into virtual slavery (a practice known as “blackbirding”), by kidnapping, being lured with false promises, or being signed up under contracts which were of dubious value (the word “kanaka” derives from the Hawaiian word for “person” or “man”)
leprous mongrel = a negative reference to Chinese people, regarding the widespread belief of earlier times that many Chinese people carried the disease of leprosy
nigger = a black person; someone of black African racial background; in an historical Australian context, “nigger” could refer to 1) an Australian Aborigine, 2) a Pacific Islander, also known as a kanaka, 3) someone of black African racial origin, also known as a negro, or 4) someone of black Central Asian racial origin, such as people from India (“nigger” is usually regarded as a derogatory term, except that it was often used as a neutral term in historical practice, and when used by or between people of a black racial background)
poll tax = a tax of a fixed amount which is levied upon individuals (regardless of their income or financial position), normally only levied upon adults (a poll tax is often, but not always, connected to the right to vote) (also spelt “poll-tax”; also called a “head tax”)
wrought = excited, upset, worked up, in a state of upheaval; can also refer to something which has been worked into shape by artistic effort (e.g. an article shaped by an author), worked into shape for industrial purposes (e.g. metal beaten or hammered into shape), prepared, decorated, embellished, ornamented, changed, formed, fashioned, created, brought into being
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]
[Editor: Changed “one end of the the continent” to “one end of the continent”; “The back race cannot” to “The black race cannot”.]