Bubba, the noose, and a Servant-Leader response blog post

This is a reflection on a deep conversation at a recent Servant-Leader gathering held in Milwaukee. The reflection is intended to capture the essence of the roundtable conversation. There is no substitute for engaging directly with others. Comments and sharing are always welcome.

In this post:

A Servant-Leader response to Bubba and the noose

In June of 2020 a noose was found hanging in the garage of NASCAR’s only black driver. Oficials acted swiftly and the apparent threat turned out to be a coincidence. If things were different…

Roundtable recap

The principles of Servant Leadership call on us to recognize and acknowledge the troubling nature of such things as a noose. In this case, there was every reason to believe the noose was intended to conjure images of the lynching of black people. There was no way to know at the time the noose was found that its placement in the garage of the only black driver in NASCAR would prove to be a coincidence.

As Servant-Leaders, we are challenged to be aware of the power of traumatizing images. We judge from our own experiences, which may be incomplete. It is important to acknowledge the difference in responses among individuals. The situation begs the question, “What does this mean to you?”

A challenge in dealing with a situation with such deep racial overtones is the disconnect between much of U.S. history and the humanity of black people. In situations where tangible damage, natural disaster, loss of property, etc., responding with charity often seems appropriate. Real/perceived threats to the humanity of individuals can be far more sensitive. This response is more challenging because we may not know what beliefs are held by others. In such cases, it is easy to oversimplify the most traumatic aspects of a situation.

The wisdom in the room

As Servant-Leaders we are called to make meaning through leadership by example. Here is some of the wisdom shared by the roundtable participants:

  • Consult with those most likely to be affected by a traumatizing situation prior to taking any action on behalf of those individuals
  • Start by listening
  • Avoid loaded questions
  • Share yourself in your conversation to model the behavior you wish to support
  • Very carefully, invite the pain into the open
  • Do not expect any individual to speak on behalf of, or defend, an entire group
  • Lead with your heart
  • be open to intuition/revelation
  • Do not expect feedback
  • What is the follow up action?

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Dan Lococo, PhD
Barrier Knocker Downer
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