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Is Scouting Truly Racially Integrated?

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When I go to scout camp and other activities they are predominantly white kids. Yet I have seen some all black troops also. What gives?

 

The only thing I can figure out is most scout troops are run by churches and those tend to be racially segregated.

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It probably depends a lot on where people live. The ethnic makeup of a troop is probably going to reflect the ethnic makeup of the area that the troop is from. So if you see an "all black" troop at summer camp, it may well be that the population of the city, town or neighborhood that the troop is from is primarily of that group as well.

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It probably depends a lot on where people live. The ethnic makeup of a troop is probably going to reflect the ethnic makeup of the area that the troop is from. So if you see an "all black" troop at summer camp, it may well be that the population of the city, town or neighborhood that the troop is from is primarily of that group as well.

This!  Or the make up of the troop may reflect the makeup of the sponsor.  I wouldn't bat an eye if the make up of a troop sponsored by an AME church was all black.

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We have mixed race troops. But, they are still predominately white.

I think this largely reflects the desgregation in our region, which is slow.

The college ministry I attended effectively practiced apartheid even while Desmund Tutu was across the street petitioning for non-violent support for change in his country. That has changed, but slowly. Many blacks still struggle to feel welcome in previously white institutions. Others are diving in and contributing ... to the benefit of us all.

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Our units here tend to be mainly white as well.  Some are all hispanic and some all black.  Our unit has a small amount of non-white but mainly white.  Our area has a lot of Indian population and we have tried and tried to reach out to them but never had any interest.  I think sometimes it is just a cultural thing.   I wish I knew the answer to tap into that population because I think diversity is a good thing.

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Our area has a lot of Indian population and we have tried and tried to reach out to them but never had any interest.  I think sometimes it is just a cultural thing.   I wish I knew the answer to tap into that population because I think diversity is a good thing.

 

We have had great success in the Indian community. We focused on the outdoor and the educational aspects of scouts, along with the leadership development. We walk the families through the program and how it works, avoiding the usual BSA speak. The key we found was to recruit one kid and then more will follow.

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It probably depends a lot on where people live. The ethnic makeup of a troop is probably going to reflect the ethnic makeup of the area that the troop is from. So if you see an "all black" troop at summer camp, it may well be that the population of the city, town or neighborhood that the troop is from is primarily of that group as well.

Sadly, I find that our troops don't reflect the ethnic make up of our towns.  From Jamboree to summer camp to council and district events, to anyplace you want to name it appears to me that BSA is not reflective of the ethnic diversity that makes up America.  BSA in fact disproportionately serves white youth.  

 

We all know that BSA does not include a proportionate number of black inner city youth, but no one serves those youth proportionately; that BSA cannot do better than the rest of our society there is unfortunate but not unexpected.   My bigger concern is that BSA does not look even as diverse as our local middle class high schools --- not in the number of Asian-Americans, not, as Mashmaster noted, in the number of Indian-Americans, and not in the number of middle class African-Americans.

 

I think at least part of this is our reliance on Churches as CORs, but I think there is more to it.  For some reason those families and those boys do not see either the value and/or the welcome in scouting that we want them to.

 

I don't know the answer, but I think the problem is us not them.

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T2Eagle: I agree. I was mainly focusing on SpEdScouter's question about seeing "all black" troops but few "diverse" troops (meaning "mixed" though some might frown on that term.) I believe we have a couple of "all black" troops in our district, from a city that is mostly of that ethnicity. So that's what I was talking about. The overall lack of diversity is a problem. We have areas around where I live that have large concentrations of Asian, Hispanic, African-American and other "minorities", but very few of them are involved in Scouting.

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I don't think the lack of racial diversity is a BSA problem. Many ethnic communities have other priorities other than scouts. Many Asian and Indian communities are more academic focused. They also have cultural schools which kids attend. Many other cultures are reluctant to join BSA because they don't understand it or its mission. But the most common reply our unit here's from those communities is that scouts takes too much time away from all the other things their kids are involved in.

 

Again the oversubscribed issues rears its ugly head.

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BSA has tried all sorts of things to try to be more diverse.  I see it as simply a family/community thing.  My kids were in Scouts because their dad was in Scouts, and it just seemed like the natural thing to do.  'Other cultures' don't have that same hand-me-down background (yet).  I always assumed my kids would be in Scouts, and so they were.  That same assumption doesn't exist in all families, so the buy-in from the parents takes a lot of selling, and if the kids don't think it's cool, it's a tough sell.

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Its interesting in our area we have camped out in an old campground that was once previously the "black" camp. Our area desegregated in the 1950's but they kept that camp until the 1990's when it was sold off. Its still open as a campground however little remains except the main building.

 

It was interesting, I'll look for the link but one time the news brought back some of the older black men who once were scouts there and they talked very fondly of the camp. Dont think it wasnt as good as the white camp. One man said his business of being a leatherworker started from his experrience in leather working at that camp.

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Sadly, I find that our troops don't reflect the ethnic make up of our towns.  From Jamboree to summer camp to council and district events, to anyplace you want to name it appears to me that BSA is not reflective of the ethnic diversity that makes up America.  BSA in fact disproportionately serves white youth.  

 

We all know that BSA does not include a proportionate number of black inner city youth, but no one serves those youth proportionately; that BSA cannot do better than the rest of our society there is unfortunate but not unexpected.   My bigger concern is that BSA does not look even as diverse as our local middle class high schools --- not in the number of Asian-Americans, not, as Mashmaster noted, in the number of Indian-Americans, and not in the number of middle class African-Americans.

 

I think at least part of this is our reliance on Churches as CORs, but I think there is more to it.  For some reason those families and those boys do not see either the value and/or the welcome in scouting that we want them to.

 

I don't know the answer, but I think the problem is us not them.

 

  When BSA unleashed their "urban" program in 1972 they made a big effort at attracting inner city kids. I was in Philadelphia Council at the time and when we attended summer camp all you saw were, I hate saying this Black troops. They were out fitted in brand new uniforms and gear. Very few though really looked like they were having a good time. I think part of the problem pure and simple is history. Why are many of us in scouting? Why are many of the scouts in your troop in scouting? They either did the program themselves and passed it on to their children or had a family relative who did. I don't think the reliance on churches has anything at all to do with it. Minoritys attend church as well as whites. I think BSA has tried to make an effort to attract the others. How well and which ways is another discussion.

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Sadly, I find that our troops don't reflect the ethnic make up of our towns. From Jamboree to summer camp to council and district events, to anyplace you want to name it appears to me that BSA is not reflective of the ethnic diversity that makes up America. BSA in fact disproportionately serves white youth.

 

We all know that BSA does not include a proportionate number of black inner city youth, but no one serves those youth proportionately; that BSA cannot do better than the rest of our society there is unfortunate but not unexpected. My bigger concern is that BSA does not look even as diverse as our local middle class high schools --- not in the number of Asian-Americans, not, as Mashmaster noted, in the number of Indian-Americans, and not in the number of middle class African-Americans.

 

I think at least part of this is our reliance on Churches as CORs, but I think there is more to it. For some reason those families and those boys do not see either the value and/or the welcome in scouting that we want them to.

 

I don't know the answer, but I think the problem is us not them.

BSA does not create units aside from sales pitches to prospective COs by DEs. People decide they want to start a troop, they apply for a charter.

If black people don't apply for charters, that's their business, not an "us problem."

 

BSA is in the middle of a campaign to use the movie Troop 491: Adventures of the Muddy Lions to get interest from urban youth. But it doesn't matter what BSA does, if they're not interested then they're not interested.

Edited by Scouter99

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Its interesting in our area we have camped out in an old campground that was once previously the "black" camp. Our area desegregated in the 1950's but they kept that camp until the 1990's when it was sold off. Its still open as a campground however little remains except the main building.

 

It was interesting, I'll look for the link but one time the news brought back some of the older black men who once were scouts there and they talked very fondly of the camp. Dont think it wasnt as good as the white camp. One man said his business of being a leatherworker started from his experrience in leather working at that camp.

 

It sounds like you might be referring to Camp Ernst, which was the segregated camp in the Kansas City Area Council. This is a somewhat historic location in KC's scouting history. The famous Scout Executive, H. Roe Bartle, can be given the credit for launching the desegregation of scouting in our area. He did it by first desegregating the Tribe of Mic-O-Say honor camper society in a special ceremony at Camp Ernst in 1955.  

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BSA does not create units aside from sales pitches to prospective COs by DEs. People decide they want to start a troop, they apply for a charter.

Au contraire, I've seen districts out right creat units where there were none many times. No CO, just a DE trying to create a unit and find parents to run it.

Edited by Bad Wolf

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