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Barack Obama used a gay lawmaker’s “sharp” haircut to make a heartwarming point

Barack Obama
Photo: Shutterstock

It’s not every day that a former U.S. president compliments one’s hairstyle, but Barack Obama took a moment at a campaign event in Philadelphia to call Pennsylvania Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta’s hair “sharp” – and a step forward.

“If you don’t think things have changed, having a brother in the state legislature with that haircut, that is a change,” Obama said about the out gay lawmaker at a Wednesday roundtable discussion of Black community leaders in Philadelphia about youth voter turnout.

Related: Three gay Democratic “rising stars” to give joint keynote address at convention

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

“My hairstylist thanks you,” Kenyatta graciously replied.

The joke was part of a larger point that Obama was making about how sometimes it’s hard to see how the country changes over the years between elections, but voting still has a powerful effect.

He talked about how the U.S. was “better… by any measure” when he left the White House in 2016 than when he entered in 2008, telling people unsure about voting to “give it a shot.”

Kenyatta then asked Obama about his 2008 slogan “Hope and change” and how he keeps hope during the Trump administration.

“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.'”

Kenyatta was one of 17 Democratic “rising stars” to co-deliver the keynote address at the 2020 Democratic National Convention this past August.

“Joe Biden was the first national figure to support me and my family,” the Pennsylvania Democrat said.

“I appreciate you, man,” his smiling fiance added.

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