Re: Washington Post Jambo Article (LONG)
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Mon, 4 Aug 1997 14:58:06 -0500
This is the second part of the posting I responded to concerning the BSA's
Urban Emphasis Program. It contains a lot of what *I* feel the BSA should
be doing to assist the programs' overall effort of bringing more Black and
other minority youth into their programs.
It contains MY feelings and ideas, which are exportable to any local
Council. If your Council uses *any* of these ideas, please let BOTH me AND
the Rural/Urban Field Service Division, BSA know. Together, perhaps we can
drum a little more "Scouter's Sense" into their otherwise
great spirits and brains!
The MOST FREQUENT QUESTION I get to my mailbox (other than, of course, "how
do you pronounce "settummanque" and why does it appear at the end of each of
your postings?" *smiling*) goes along the line of this:
"I'm sorry if this offends you, Mike, but we're really having a problem with
this. How do you get Blacks to join Scouts? They won't even come around
our meeting place..."
Black kids are KIDS. They have a different outer shell, their parents have
a different upbringing than they have. But they are kids. Kids want to do
kid things. Scouting, if you have a GOOD, ACTIVE PROGRAM is a "kid thing".
If you have a good active program, kids of all colors, races and ethnic
backgrounds are going to come around and want to see if it's the "real
deal". Here's how you make it REAL for them:
*Have as many of your meetings or events OUTSIDE as possible. Let them SEE
how much fun you're having, let them SEE what it is you're learning and let
them SEE closeup what Scouting is really about. When you can't have your
meetings outside, keep the doors OPEN as much as possible so that those
curious can come in, peek in and look.
*ALWAYS keep applications on hand. Don't talk money with the kid. You want
to get PARENT AND KID involved; you can say "Not as much as you think", or
my favorite, "How much have you spent on cokes and candy today (the average
kid will say "about a dollar"; if you get a kid that says "nothing", say
"Well, I've spent a dollar and a half today" and multiply it by 12 (or have
him to multiply it by 12). "That's how much it'll cost."
*When playing games, invite those "straphangers" watching to participate,
with the Senior Patrol Leader's or Den Leader's permission. Explain the
rules. Let them play. Don't worry, the BSA's insurance (and most unit's
insurance) will pick up for that *once in a lifetime* injury.
Most of all, you've gained a FRIEND (and eventually a new Scout).
*Don't be too concerned when your "new Scout" doesn't show up for a while
(like a couple of meetings). DO be concerned when your "new Scout" doesn't
show for three meetings straight. A lot of Black kids want to know that
"they're not a number" or "a quota", and so they will "sit out" for a couple
of meetings to "see what happens" with their parents AND the leader. Ask
your Scouts to ask about him, but DON'T make any calls for a couple of
weeks. (this also works with those absent 15-17 year olds too!)
*Be inclusive, but don't SINGLE OUT. I was very embarrassed when my
Scoutmasters, all white, and all meaning well, would say something like "You
know, Mike's people love watermelon, right??" while everyone's sitting
around eating watermelon. I *throw up* at the *smell* of watermelon, and
cannot eat it or anything that smells like it. Poor Mr. Decker, he didn't
know. He was just trying to include me, who was sitting as downwind as I
could from the rest and still be at the table, in with the conversation.
Treat each and every Scout as if they were ALL one color:
tan. When you have to "single out" a person for an achievement or special
honor, try to downplay the "color" aspect and emphasize the *action*.
*Don't lower your standards....Kids join Scouting because it has ONE set of
standards. This is something you can emphasize to parents (I do). It takes
21 merit badges to make it to Eagle. There are 11 required ones. EVERY
Eagle Scout...black, white, red, orange, green....has to earn those 11 merit
badges. Let's tie the bowline one way. Let's use the compass one way.
That's what wins the program over for a lot of kids, unlike school where
there's several ways that you can get the answer, different "classrooms" for
different levels of education...in Scouting, there's one way to do it and
it's explained clearly in the Handbook. Don't have one?
Let's earn you one!
Here's some ways that Districts can get new units in urban areas....I've
done them, so I know they work. You can make them work as well.
*Churches, particularily those in urban areas, give a lot of money to church
missionaries that travel to other places. When organizing a new unit,
suggest that the church set up a special "missionary fund" for that Troop
and raise money for it just like it would for a missionary family.
When the Troop needs help, have that church to announce it within their
bulletin along with all of the other missionary requests. And ask that
church to PRAY for that "missionary youth program" that their church is
sponsering. See, a lot of Black parents, like my own, were raised in
microcommunities within larger White ones. They didn't have social services
to help them, nor did they have federal assistance groups nearby.
What they did have, and continue to have, are the black and mixed churches.
That's where the "center of power" is in the Black community, and that's
where you'll find the greater number of kids each and every Sunday without
fail. Even those that will rob you blind on Monday will be found in church
on Sunday....or SOMEONE'S ADULT will find them and ask them why not.
*Don't get "hung up" on "tradition". What makes the Pittsburgh experiences
worth watching and hoping for, is that they are crossing African culture
with Scouting's beginnings and uprootings. A lot of parents are appealing
to SOMETHING, ANYTHING that will protect their kids from the harshness of
"reality" and will give them back their childhood. I'm not saying "get rid
of the uniforms", but let's think about this: do we HAVE to have the
uniform on EVERY WEEK? Are there some things that lends themselves to the
uniform and others that don't? In Pittsburgh, a part of the program
involves going around the community and performing "good turns" in groups of
five to eight (patrol size) with adult assistance. Small things, but in a
group (building self-esteem and group cohesion) while being a part of
something bigger. A Scout meeting, as I've wrote here several times before,
DOES NOT HAVE TO BE AT THE MEETING PLACE EVERY WEEK. By exposing EVERYONE
to the community at large, they see what you are trying to do and would be
more inclied to help, assist and work alongside you than if you are walled
up in some church basement week after week.
Finally, some things that the BSA's Urban/Rural Programs Division need to
do, and QUICKLY:
*RECOMMEND TO SCOUT EXECUTIVES THAT THOSE BLACK MEN NOW OCCUPING THE "URBAN
DISTRICT" BE PLACED IN SUBURBAN, "WHITE" AREAS OF THE COUNCIL. This is not
being done, thinking that "black people will relate better to a black
person". That's only HALF of the problem. We have a lot more black people
in our suburban areas (that CAN afford Scouting) without "role models".
What's more a role model than a Black field executive of the BSA living and
working in *their communities* (two, in my opinion *heheheee*)
*FORMULATE A PLAN FOR VISITING EACH AND EVERY BLACK CHURCH IN URBAN AREAS BY
TWO PROFESSIONALS AND A BLACK VOLUNTEER FROM OUTSIDE THEIR COUNCIL. There's
a lot of great spokespeople for our program whom NEVER get asked to come and
work with organizing a new unit. Why? "Because they're not registered in
our Council, and we feel funny about asking them to come up (or down) to
help us out". This goes back to the principle of "knowing and using the
resources of the group". Worried about money?? Say so right up front "Look,
Bill....we can really use your help and your enthusiam, but we can't pay you
for coming. Would you consider coming anyways?" I'm here to tell you that
if it's possible, *I* would do it and a lot of other more talented and
experienced Scouters from other Councils would do the same. Why?
Because we know how hard it is to get it going. Pros (and I used to be one,
so this isn't a flippant statement) come in, talk for a while, shake hands
and leave. New unit. But who better to *explain* what it takes to get it
going to a Black audience than a Scouter that has been there, done it and
got the teeshirt and who's wearing it!
*IF YOU'RE GOING TO RECOMMEND THAT A BLACK OR ASIAN AMERICAN SERVE IN A
NATIONAL SCOUTING POSITION, MAKE SURE THAT THE PERSON IS WILLING TO GO TO
EACH AND EVERY LOCAL COUNCIL, TAKE PART IN EACH SIGNIFICANT NATIONAL
SCOUTING EVENT, AND REPRESENT THE BSA TO OTHER NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS. We
didn't get our money's worth when the BSA's National Commissioner position
went to a Black man for the first time in it's history (betcha didn't know
that, did you?). The basic problem was, nobody bothered to explain what the
role of the National Commissioner was, and for the first year, the National
staff was working on a role description. The next two years, he was unable
to attend significant national events or to make visits to the top 50
Quality Councils. Finally, he resigned, and left the BSA...and all of us
Black Scouters out here...really high and dry.
Sorry for the long posting, gang. This is one of my pet peeves, and one
which hits closest to home for a variety of reasons, some only known to a
few. Scouting is a program for ALL boys that want to become a Scout. In
doing so, they work under the same rules and get the same rewards. That's
the way life should be, and Scouting is a game which should prepare youth
for life. I'm a firm believer in that, and I would have never got anything
or been able to do what I've been able to do without it. It has elements of
all of the good things we want out our citizenry in it.
We all need to do a better job in promoting those facts to our communities
and ALL of the residents within it. It starts, not with the National
people, nor with your local Council folks....it starts with each of us, role
models for our own youth in our own communities.
Off the soapbox,
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
241 Fairview Dr., Henderson, KY 42420-4339 email@example.com
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