White Boy Scout Leader to Black Kid: It’s OK That You Were Called the N-Word. ‘I’ve Seen a Lot Worse’

Illustration for article titled White Boy Scout Leader to Black Kid: It’s OK That You Were Called the N-Word. ‘I’ve Seen a Lot Worse’
Photo: George Frey (Getty Images)

One Boy Scouts of America leader might have let this whole “master” thing go to his Alabamian head. (Fun fact: Did you know that free black people were banned from the state of Alabama after 1834?)


And if what is being alleged is true, he might need to get Djangoed up out of the organization. AL.com reports a 14-year-old Ethiopian immigrant was on a Boy Scout camping trip and was racially bullied, but this scout leader basically told him to get over it.

“Things happen at camp,” the scout leader reportedly said.

According to the report, last month members of Troop 76 from Alabama, bullied a black Georgia Boy Scout, throwing rocks and calling him the ‘N-word’ during a week-long camping trip at Camp Woodruff in Blairsville, Ga.

Adding insult to injury was the fact that the adults meant to mentor him left him unprotected and twisting in the wind.

Troop 10 from Johns Creek, Ga., was camping next to Troop 76 from Vestavia Hills, Ala., when the bullying occurred, according to a Troop 10 parent, Leanne Potts. Potts’ son was in the same unit as the unnamed 14-year-old, whose parents are Ethiopian immigrants.

“The members of Troop 76 had thrown rocks,” Potts said. “It upsets me that this is that boy’s summer camp memory.”

AL.com says that it also met with the young man and his mother; they both wished not to be identified but confirmed Potts’ account, including that rocks were thrown and racial epithets were hurled.


The bullied teen’s mother said that some Scouts were also wearing “Make America Great Again” hats at camp—and we know how Trump makes it great to hate immigrants these days.


But leave it to an educated white guy from Alabama to make a bad incident infinitely more painful.

Dr. Rob Spiegel, a Birmingham physician who is the scoutmaster for Troop 76, defended his little rednecks scouts, saying that the incident is being blown out of proportion.


“Things happen at camp,” Spiegel said. “There’s a lot of misinformation.”

He denied that the young man’s account of members of his troop threw rocks at a black Boy Scout from Troop 10, saying he talked to him.


“The rocks are not accurate,” Spiegel said. “I talked to that child,” he adding that they too have blacks in their ranks.

“We have African-American kids in our own group,” he continues. “I don’t think it’s a story. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen at camp.”


However, Spiegel would not confirm or deny that the n-word was used (meaning, those kids totally used that word.)

The Rev. Wade Griffith, senior pastor of Liberty Crossings United Methodist Church, which sponsors Troop 76, sent out an email to church members saying what happened was “very regrettable and is absolutely inconsistent with the values and high ideals of scouting and, more importantly, the United Methodist Church,” he wrote, according to AL.com. He mentioned punishment, but there seems to be some haziness around that.


The director at Camp Woodruff, Matt Rendahl, said he did not know the details of what happened but that there definitely “was an incident,” according to his account.

“We did have some bullying issues,” Rendahl said, but also noted that the camp itself did not send anyone home. He said that the issue was handled by scoutmasters, and Troop 76 “may have” sent one of its scouts home on its own, according to AL.com.


Meanwhile, the parent of the Troop 10 Scout says she thinks President Trump has set the tone, saying her son and Scouts his age are too young to be aware how unusual Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is.

“That’s what worries me about this incident,” she said.

The crux of it is what defines American “values.” And some MAGA-wearing Boy Scouts have let it be known that an Ethiopian kid from Georgia ain’t it.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.


Has there ever been a “good” boyscout story? Ever? I mean they are run by wealthy white men to teach boys how to boy and hate girls/women and start a fire. Shoot, they don’t even bring thin mints to my door - like, how smart are you fools?