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Barack Obama jokes about gay representative’s ‘sharp’ haircut to make a serious point about representation and voting

Emma Powys Maurice October 23, 2020
Barack Obama

Former president Barack Obama (Scott Olson/Getty)

Thanks to Barack Obama, Pennsylvania representative Malcolm Kenyatta just had the best hair day of his life.

Earlier this week the Black gay Democrat was singled out by the former president, who drew attention to his “sharp” haircut to make an important point about the future of Congress.

Appearing at a roundtable event in Philadelphia, Obama took the opportunity to speak with members of the city’s Black community and inspire hope for change.

“If you don’t think things have changed, having a brother in the state legislature with that haircut, that is a change,” he quipped, pointing to the gay lawmaker with his braided hair.

“That looks sharp! But I’m just saying, man, you didn’t see that 20 years ago.”

“My hairstylist thanks you,” Kenyatta replied with a laugh, then joked that the barber would probably use the endorsement in an advertisement.

The heartwarming moment was a poignant reminder of the personable approach Obama took throughout his presidency.

It also highlighted the larger point the president was making about the power and importance of voting, even if it’s hard to see how the country changes between elections.

Kenyatta followed this up with a question to Obama about his own belief in progress.

“When you ran for office, your slogan, hope, and change. The last couple of years have been a lot of sadness and destruction. What still gives you hope?” he asked.

“Hope is not blind optimism,” Obama replied. “Hope is not ignoring problems. Hope is believing, in the face of difficulty, that we can overcome and get a better world. Hope is looking squarely at our challenges and our shortcomings and saying, ‘Despite that, I think through effort and will and community, we can make things better.’

“And so, I’ve never lost hope over these last four years. I’ve been mad, I’ve been frustrated, but I haven’t lost hope.”

More: Barack Obama, Biden campaign, Malcolm Kenyatta, presidential election

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