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We had several new boys come up from the Webelos recently into our troop. Two of them are black. I have known them from the pack, but don't know them very well. We are a mostly white troop, although of various backgrounds and faiths.


At the past troop meeting, one of these boys got confused about something and complained to his father. The father later talked to the Scoutmaster over the phone and expressed a concern that his son may have been intentionally excluded from the scout elections because he was black. The Scoutmaster was sort of shocked. He didn't know what to say, so he said he would look into it and get back to him, but assured him that he knows everybody in the troop and none of us are racist.


Now, I know the boy was there during the election and this is just a misunderstanding. I was there, so I know, and this isn't a question of the troop even inadvertently excluding anyone. He was there. He didn't get elected to any positions, and I can't speak to why, but I know the boys and I'm sure it had nothing to do with his race. But this parent seemed to conclude that the Scoutmaster and I had colluded to completely exclude this boy from the election where actually we had gone out of our way to make sure that he got signed off on all his Scout requirements and were treating him just like every other boy.


The father even said something about switching to a different troop, but, of course, then he'll just have the same problem elsewhere as it's a problem of perception which nobody else can control.


Has anybody experienced anything like this? What do you think of this?

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A long while back I had a similar problem with a boy. He transferred to us from another troop, as he said the other troop did not treat him right. We were actually the third troop. When he was unable to pass some rank requirements, due to having not mastered the material, his mother came to me with the race card. He was from a bi-racial family, and his mother was white. I tried to mollify her and clarify things, but she was convinced he was being treated unfairly due to his color. He never did advance, and soon afterwards, left the program.


I felt a bit guilty, and discussed it with the committee and some scouting friends familiar with some of the activities, as we did them together. No one seemed to see any evidence. Since then, I have seen occasions outside of scouting where it is obvious that someone is simply looking for an excuse to make this claim; that no matter what you do, it will be claimed there is a bias. In these cases, you will not find a solution; or at least it is highly unlikely.


Not much of an answer; but it may shed some light on your problem. Hopefully, you will be more fortuneate, and find a way to get past it.


Good luck.

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You say your Troop is "mostly white". I have never had that sort of problem in my Scout endeavors, but at work... I am caucasian and was a supervisory sort of fella in a mostly black and hispanic shop. I "grew up" in the shop but on occassion, some one I had to discipline would go running to the higher ups to claim the race card with me. My reputation for fairness always preceeded him, tho. Once, however, I had a greivance filed against me for a report I had to make against one of my employees of color. I actually had to call in some other workers to testify in my behalf.

What I would suggest is to be scrupulously fair amongst your Scouts. Invite that dad to come and be an ASM. Let him see how your Troop includes everyone. Perhaps he is being overly sensitive and protective of his son. His past history might lead him to that, but you may never know the true dynamics. If the "mostly white" Troop has a dad you know that the other dad might more easily relate to, ask him to speak to the new kid's dad.

Has anyone spoken to the Troops' boy leadership? Maybe the new kid just didn't understand how things work. After all, not everybody gets 'elected' to every position they might aspire to, right?


Language: Any where else, addressing the Troop as "boys" would be OK. But then you have to remember the term 'boy' might have another connotation here. Maybe referring to everybody as SCOUT would be a better, more appropriate term here?


Patience. You'll find your way yet.








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Narraticong, I sort of feel the same way.


Actually, though, I am not opposed to being somewhat sensitive to what might upset another person even if I don't agree with it. That's just being polite.


What I do not like is having somebody point their finger at me and suggest that I might have done something to intentionally discriminate or having the feeling that there is this time-bomb ready to explode at any time in the future. I am afraid that I will always have to be walking on eggshells with this gentleman and it is going to be a problem in the future.


In fact, I was actually acting to help out this man's boy and now I will be almost afraid to have anything to do with the kid.

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Two thoughts:


First, sounds to me like some great Scoutmaster minutes in the making. Color of our skin is not, cannot be a determining factor on anything.


Second, at the end of the day, our youth members are minors. Parents are the ones who are responsible for their upbringings. If there is a perception, there's a reality for some parent. It's not the youth member you have to account to, it's the parent.


Personally, if a Scout doesn't win the election, I'd be having a friendly SM conference that very night with him, and I'd be talking to the parents. What does he think the reason is for not being elected? How can he overcome that in the next election cycle? Is there an appointive position that interests him? (Yes, refer that downstream to the SPL). In talking with the parents, share your observations. Take the wind out of this sail as fast as you possibly can.

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"Color of our skin is not, cannot be a determining factor on anything."


Except for Affirmative Action, of course.


Racists come in all colors. It's sad that we have to deal with things like this in our volunteer "leisure" time. Kinda makes people not want to volunteer.


I liked the suggestion put forth..."Mr. X, if you are concerned about how we are running our program, please fill out this Volunteer Application and help us out."


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We have had a racially mixed Troop for as long as I have been involved. All of the adults who volunteer and actually show up are Caucasian(edit- I so do not see in color that I forgot one of our Key committee members is ethnically Korean). I see us as very sensitive to possible problems but we try not to feed into it but rather as active in making it a non-issue.


Of course, they are all in fact individuals with many possible discriminators (Rank, age, height, religion, parents marital status, schools, sports played, instruments played, internet access, phone access, leadership potential,etc.,etc.) but I do not choose to recognize the racial thing and if they want to try the race card, go ahead. I choose not to participate in that game. If the Scouts were to discriminate I would be the first to be jumping down their throats.


I use the same criteria I used while I was in the Service, As they were all Marines and thus a funny looking camouflage color(which has many shades of Green in it, which we commonly referred to as simply Green)as in "Go find me that Marine, Jones - Which one? - either Lance corporal(if he was the only Jones at that rank), David(if I could remember his name) or the Light Green one."(If there were several but only one of each racial background and I wanted the Caucasian). Or, if he were the only Jones and the other guy wasn't aware at that moment "Duh, the Green one!"

They are all Scouts - thus they are all Tan with (currently) either red or green shoulder loops. There are no other differences between them. It would be like discriminating because someone was right handed or left handed - we all have racial backgrounds. (Scot-Germanic)


Those who aren't happy with the state of racial affairs in our Troop will not be happy anywhere else in the area.


OTOH, there are those who will leverage whatever issue they can, and others who are so sensitized to their own issues that they will see discrimination anywhere that they possibly can. Especially if they do not get something they think they should have had. You have to realize that other than just letting people who live in this state have free rein over you that you cannot make them happy with the situation. And sometimes will be accused of discrimination by taking that course as well - of course you, in fact, were if you did take that choice but...


So bottom line, depending on your PoV I am either Very racially sensitive or so far cave-mannned that I simply don't see the issue.(This message has been edited by Gunny2862)

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Been there done that!


The best thing to do, in my opinion, is nothing. So far, at least from your post, you haven't done anything to warrant this fathers opinion so there is nothing to fix or change.

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"Until you've walked a mile in his shoes..."


I had a Troop in D.C. 30 boys, 1 white and the rest black (I'm white).

My Troop in Colorado, at the same time, had 1 sikh, 2 muslims, 6 catholics, a bunch of different flavors of protestant, asians, blacks, whites, hispanics.


It takes empathy and work to make everyone feel welcome. You know you've succeeded when the kids stand up for each other (summer camp staff making fun of the sikh).


Meet with the dad and mom, perhaps at their house. Tell them that you are glad they are with your unit because their son will be a real addition to the group.


Ask them to particpate as leaders (several others pointed this out) but also ask them to come to meetings if they don't want to be leaders. I learned a lot about black culture in 4 years in D.C. with my boys. Hopefully your boys will have a chance to learn also.


Look for problems and catch them early. (at that evil summer camp I actually screwed up big time when the camp director was using subtle hints that our Sikh scout was being ostracized by his staff, and I missed it. The boys actually dealt with it in the class.)

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