Renee Scheidt: Diamond, Silk left mark on political world

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Earlier this month, a funeral was held for 51-year-old
Lynette Hardway of Fayetteville. This memorial service, however, was like none previously seen.

The “Celebration of Life” ceremony” was live-streamed and lasted four hours. Instead of being held in the church her father pastors, a large auditorium held the standing-room-only crowd. Certainly, there was grief displayed at her passing, yet the atmosphere was almost party-like. For the family, the crowning touch was that “her President, Donald J. Trump,” flew from his Florida home to speak at this event.

Why would the former U.S. president make such a loving and unusual gesture for this North Carolina woman, even to the extent of paying for the full service? If you knew Lynette, then you know the answer.

She wasn’t just anyone who died young and suddenly. This sometimes brash, “tell it like it is” Black woman and her sister rocketed to fame for their outspoken support of Trump. You probably know them as “Diamond and Silk.” Their ascent from being two Democratic Black sisters in a small Southern town to national political pundits with access to the White House is quite a story. To their surprise, the sisters quickly found themselves an overnight sensation. They were everywhere, testifying before Congress about Facebook’s censorship, speaking at Liberty University’s convocation, regular contributors on Fox News and vbloggers of a very popular social media site.

Diamond and Silk’s sudden fame began after hearing Trump announce his bid for the presidency in 2015.

“He spoke common sense,” Diamond said. Soon after that, for the first time in her life, she recorded her thoughts online. The video went viral. She then asked her sister, Silk, to join her in her weekly political comments. Without reservation, they began to boldly “Stump for Trump.” Holding back nothing, they passionately brought their views to the nation as they explained why they left the Democratic Party to become warriors for this unconventional Republican candidate.

The sisters grew up in a family that was lifelong Democrats. Fact is, almost everyone they knew in Hoke County was too. That quickly changed as they listened to Trump’s plan to attack our country’s problems.

Diamond realized that the Democrats “didn’t give a damn about my fellow Black brothers and sisters.” They were offended that most Americans expected African-Americans to vote for the Democratic Party. They called that “just another kind of racism” and described the Democratic Party as a plantation that represses Black voters who didn’t adhere to the party line. “We have our own mind, and we can think for ourselves,” said Diamond.

It wasn’t long before they had the country’s attention. Their no-holds-barred, call-a-spade-a-spade conversations soon brought them praise and criticism. They were applauded and literally cursed. More than the usual political comments, they were entertaining, blunt and even sassy. They never backed down or apologized for their comments. They were completely sold on what they espoused and wanted you to be also.

As a duo, Diamond was the primary speaker (she claims she was always “mouthy”) with Silk adding the side notes. They developed catchy, rhythmic sayings that stuck in people’s minds. They encouraged others to “ditch and switch” political parties, as they tried to get Democrats to escape the “Bowl of Stupid.” Much of their wit and engaging manner is found in their book published in August 2020. The title itself says it all: “Uprising: Who the Hell Said You Can’t Ditch and Switch? — The Awakening of Diamond and Silk.”

These strong, independent ladies have baffled professors and students of race and politics. Georgetown University’s Corey Fields wrote, “When I first encountered them, I didn’t know what to make of them. Entertaining and engaging performance art? Or befuddling true political endorsement?”

University of Pennsylvania’s Anthea Butler whose expertise is in women and African-American religious history felt that there really was no explanation for these ladies. “Don’t try to wrap your brain around Diamond and Silk. They are what they are.”

With Diamond’s passing to her heavenly home, the duo has become a solo act. Silk is committed to continuing the work she and her sister began. She plans to be back in action on Thursday. Many of us will be waiting and watching.

Love them or hate them, Diamond and Silk made a mark on the political world. They influenced the country with their unique style and controversial dialog. Regardless of political agreement or disagreement, North Carolinians should take pride in seeing fellow Tar Heels succeed. Their lives show that the American dream is still available for everyone, no matter where you start.

Renee Scheidt lives in Salisbury.