British Racism Toward Chinese Used the Laundryman Image

Anti-Chinese sentiment in the late 19th and well into the middle of the 20th century,was not limited to North America by any means.  One of England’s most popular vaudevillian entertainers, George Formby, performed several racist songs focused on “Mr. Wu,” a character who was depicted as a sex-starved Chinese bachelor laundryman who lusted after white British women.  The lyrics of “Chinese Laundry Blues” below will give you a better picture of the imagery, and you can even find a video of his last performance, posted on the web.

Now Mr. Woo was a laundry man
In a shop with an old green door
He’d iron all day, your linen away
He really makes me sore
He lost his heart to a Chinese girl
And his laundry’s all gone wrong
All day he’ll flirt and starch your shirt
And that’s why I’m singing this song

Oh! Mr. Woo, what shall I do
I’m feeling kind of Limehouse Chinese laundry blue
This funny feeling keeps round me ceiling
Oh won’t you throw your sweetheart over, do.
My best silk shawl, now it won’t fit my little brother
And my new Sunday shirt has got a perforated rudder
Mr. Woo, what shall I do
I’m feeling kind of Limehouse Chinese laundry blue

Now Mr. Woo, he’s got a naughty eye that flickers
You ought to see it wobble when he’s ironing ladies blouses
Mr. Woo, what shall I do
I’m feeling kind of Limehouse Chinese laundry blue.

Now Mr. Woo, he’s got a laundry kind of tricky,
He starched my shirts and collars
But he never touched me waistcoat
Mr. Woo, what shall I do
I’m feeling kind of Limehouse Chinese laundry blue

1 Comment

Filed under Racist Material

One response to “British Racism Toward Chinese Used the Laundryman Image

  1. Colonial British sinophobia was a passive-aggressive reaction against the perceived ‘Yellow Peril’. This reminds me of ‘Opium War’ by Julia Lovell

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