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Barack Obama says this gay politician’s haircut shows progress is possible

Barack Obama says this gay politician’s haircut shows progress is possible

  • State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta was the first openly gay person of color to join Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives.
Malcolm Kenyatta.

Barack Obama has quipped that a black, gay state representative’s haircut shows that change is possible.

The former president said you wouldn’t have seen a cut like Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta’s hair on someone in office two decades ago.

He said: ‘If you don’t think things have changed, having a brother in the state legislature with that haircut, that is a change. It looks sharp, but I’m saying, man, you didn’t see that 20 years ago,” Obama quipped to State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta of Pennsylvania’s 181st District.

Laughing Kenyatta replied: ‘My hairstylist thanks you.’ Moreover, he joked the hairdresser would use the video in an advert.

The banter happened on Wednesday when black leaders met Obama in Philadelphia. The roundtable meeting focused on getting young people to turn out for the 3 November elections.

It comes after Obama took a greater role in campaigning for Joe Biden in the last few weeks of the election race.

‘The audacity of hope’

Kenyatta also questioned Obama during the roundtable. He asked how the former president can still believe in hope and change:

‘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?’

Obama replied: ‘You know, when I burst on to the national scene, it was after I had won the nomination to be the US Senator for Illinois and I was asked to be the keynote at the Democratic National Convention.

‘I talked about hope and the audacity of hope. And I made this point:   Hope is not blind optimism. 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.

‘And the reason is I never expected progress to move directly in a straight line. If you look at the history of this country you make progress and there is some back pedalling and backlash.

‘And I think what we’ve seen over the last four years was… With my election we had probably got over optimistic about how much change had happened in the country. But that change was real. There was some pushback and that was real too.

‘But when we started seeing all those young people from across the country demonstrating this summer it reminded you they internalized that sense of optimism and change and possibility.’

However, he warned ‘can’t afford another four years of this.’

Groundbreaking gay politician

Kenyatta is a 30-year-old Democratic politician and community activist from North Philadelphia.

He was one of the ‘rainbow wave’ of over 150 LGBT+ politicians who won office at all levels in the US during the 2018 midterm elections.

By winning the seat as State Representative for the 181st District he became the first gay person of color to sit in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.