Category Archives: Latino

Boys Scouts Recruiting Latinos

In many of my posts on this blog, one consistent theme has been the ways in which American society and institutions are adapting to the increasing racial/ethnic diversity taking place in our society as a result of demographics and globalization.

Within this context, a second point that I have emphasized is that these changes take place on both sides of the fence — among White Americans and among people of color/newcomers.
Recently, Newsweek magazine had an article that illustrates this two-way process very clearly — specifically, in regards to how the Boy Scouts of America are trying to attract more Latinos:

The Scouts have staked their future on Latinos for a simple reason: demographics. Hispanics account for more than one fifth of kids under the age of 5 and are projected to make up one quarter of the nation’s population by 2050. . . . A vast second generation of Latinos is just now emerging from elementary school, offering the Scouts fertile ground for recruiting. . . .

These kids have distinctive traits. . . . [T]hey straddle cultures nimbly. They speak Spanish at home and English at school. They retain traditional values like respect for their elders, but also embrace American ambition and individualism. They’re proud to be Latino and consider themselves cultural vanguardists, yet they’re eager to participate in broader youth culture and wary of “Hispanic products” that single them out. . . .

Hoping to invigorate Latino outreach, [the BSA] hired Carlos Alcazar in 2007. Alcazar [found that] when Hispanic families joined the Scouts, they loved it. But he identified two main problems: Latino ignorance of the BSA, which gave way to rumors that it was some sort of government or military outfit, and a lack of bilingual staff and volunteers to accommodate new recruits and their parents. . . .

The BSA has created a national office for Hispanic initiatives, begun hiring local Latino staff and started crafting a national ad campaign. It has also launched six pilot projects in cities across the country to test new marketing proposals. . . .

The one in Orlando, where Puerto Ricans have been migrating in droves, is led by Eric Santiago. . . . The multitude of misconceptions (”Are you grooming child soldiers?” “Are you going to force my kid to kill a rabbit and eat it?”) can be tiring. When families do express interest, the next challenge is to accommodate their schedules, which are often strained by long hours in service-sector jobs.

More dispiriting still, he has encountered xenophobia on a few occasions. When he visited a school once, an elderly white Eagle Scout wanted to hand off a number of Latino kids rather than integrate them into his troop. “I don’t want to deal with the parents,” he told Santiago. “If they come to us, they should learn English.” Such sentiments have cropped up elsewhere, too, such as this online comment in response to an article about Hispanic recruitment in Delaware: “If they (hispanics) want to fit in—then THEY HAVE to make the changes, not the AMERICAN BOY Scouts of AMERIA [sic].”

As I mentioned, in order for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to be successful in attracting more Latino scouts, adjustments need to be made on both sides. For the BSA, it means not merely translating existing materials into Spanish and calling it a day, but fundamentally changing their organization to incorporate the culture and characteristics of the Latino population.

And it also means confronting the unfortunate xenophobia and racially-ignorant resistance towards doing so, as the comment in the quote above shows. In doing so, the BSA will go a long way toward erasing its traditional image of being “quintessentially White, suburban and middle class.”

For Latinos, it means discarding their inaccurate preconceptions about the BSA being some kind of government or military organization, and that it’s only for suburban, middle class Whites.

In other words, one reason for Latinos or any other underrepresented racial/ethnic group to join the BSA is not so they can “act White” and completely assimilate into “mainstream” American society but rather, to have the opportunity to both broaden their cultural environment and continue incorporating elements of traditional American culture into their lives and second, to bring their culture into the BSA and infuse it with new and diverse elements.

In fact, that’s basically a microcosm of contemporary American racial/ethnic assimilation in general.

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Update: On March 4, 2009, NBC Nightly News did a short segment on the cultural emergence of the Latino American community in general and specifically, how the Boy Scouts are trying to recruit more of them:

Hispanic Heritage Month Begins Today

September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. Below is an historical summary and a few noteworthy statistics published by the Census Bureau for this occasion:

In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, which was observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month-long celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15).

America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

45.5 million
The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2007, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority, constituting 15 percent of the nation’s total population. In addition, there are approximately 3.9 million residents of Puerto Rico.

22.4 million
The nation’s Hispanic population during the 1990 Census — less than half the current total.

102.6 million
The projected Hispanic population of the United States on July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute 24 percent of the nation’s population by that date.

64%
The percentage of Hispanic-origin people in the United States who are of Mexican background. Another 9% are of Puerto Rican background, with 3.4% Cuban, 3.1% Salvadoran and 2.8% Dominican. The remainder are of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic or Latino origin.

27.6 years
Median age of the Hispanic population in 2007. This compares with 36.6 years for the population as a whole.

48%
The percentage of the Hispanic-origin population that lives in California or Texas. California is home to 13.2 million Hispanics, and Texas is home to 8.6 million.

16
The number of states with at least a half-million Hispanic residents. They are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

1.6 million
The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002.

$222 billion
Revenue generated by Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002, up 19 percent from 1997.

$37,781
The median income of Hispanic households in 2006, statistically unchanged from the previous year after adjusting for inflation.

20.6%
The poverty rate among Hispanics in 2006, down from 21.8 percent in 2005.

60%
The percentage of Hispanics 25 and older who had at least a high school education in 2007.

13%
The percentage of the Hispanic population 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2007.

11%
Percentage of all college students in October 2006 who were Hispanic. Among elementary and high school students combined, the corresponding proportion was 19 percent.

17%
The percentage of Hispanics 16 or older who work in management, professional and related occupations. Roughly the same percentage work in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations. Approximately 24% of Hispanics 16 or older work in service occupations; 22% in sales and office occupations; and 18% in production, transportation and material moving occupations.

7.6 million
The number of Hispanic citizens who reported voting in the 2004 presidential election. The percentage of Hispanic citizens voting — about 47% — did not change statistically from four years earlier.

1.1 million
The number of Hispanic veterans of the U.S. armed forces.