The bishopric counselor announced the speakers, and the youth speaker was a young man named Thomas. Thomas is the president of our Teachers’ Quorum and a sophomore in high school. As part of his introduction, the counselor mentioned that Thomas’ friends at high school had taken to calling him “Barack.” I hadn’t thought of it before, but I immediately realized it was a clever nickname.
Thomas is a young black man, with an African father (his father is from Ghana and is a counselor in our SP) and an anglo mother. He used to wear a huge afro, but now he wears his hair short. He has a thin frame. And he’s a voracious reader and highly intelligent.
After the sacrament service was over I was chatting with the bishopric counselor who had shared that tidbit of information with the congregation, and he told me that on Halloween Thomas had gone to school wearing a suit and a Vote for Obama button, and apparently that was the genesis of his new nickname. I walked by the sacrament preparation closet, and as the boys were putting the trays away I heard one of our other young black men referring to Thomas as Barack with no hint of humor or irony, suggesting it had become an established nickname.
As I thoght about it, I was so pleased that this young man had found such a positive role model to emulate. As I said, he’s an intelligent young man, a quality often not appreciated in high school culture. He’s not an athlete. And yet he had embraced the image of the president elect, and his classmates had responded to that in a positive way. Just a few short years ago, who would have thought such a thing could happen?
So I was very happy to listen to the youth talk today, given by a young man now known among his peers as “Barack.”