Why Is Donald Trump Following A Pair Of Black Women Named Diamond & Silk On Twitter?

Photo: Johnny Louis/Getty.
The internet is a weird a place. Just today I saw a woman with a snake stuck IN HER EAR and there were people on my social media feeds who weren’t excited about Beyoncé being pregnant with twins. You’re always just one click away from the strange and unusual on the world wide web. But I’m here to talk about another mystery brought to you by the man whose obsession with the internet may very well be interfering with his actual job of running the country: Donald J. Trump… and his Twitter account, of course.

Here are your instructions. Go to http://twitter.com > Search: @realDonaldTrump > Following. With an extremely fleeky follower-to-following ratio, it’s pretty easy to comb through the 41 accounts Trump follows and spot one that sticks out like a sore thumb. A verified account belonging to “biological sisters” Diamond and Silk feels oddly placed among the rest of the profiles — many of which belong to his family, friends, hotel enterprises, and Fox News — that received Twitter nods of the highest honor from Trump.

You might recognize Diamond and Silk as the aesthetic outliers at several of Trump’s rallies during his presidential campaign. Two Black women at a Trump rally aren’t exactly needles in a haystack. After being publicly acknowledged by Trump himself while he worked to secure the Republican nomination, the siblings also made several news appearances. No one can deny that two Black women campaigning for Trump at a time where the country is more racially divided than it’s been in decades are media gold.

But I’m sure you’re wondering how Diamond and Silk ended up on the radars of Trump and “his America” in the first place. The sisters made a name for themselves as YouTube vloggers. Real names Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, the sisters began uploading videos supporting Trump in July 2015. They became viral sensations among their conservative, pro-Trump peers (“sensation” obviously holds different weight among the far right, because I know beauty bloggers with better numbers than their 75,000 subscribers).
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There is no doubt in my mind that part of the allure of Diamond and Silk is their culturally specific way of expressing themselves. I’m never one to shame Black women for acting like Black women. Neck rolling, exaggerated hand gestures, and animated conversations are all native to Black girls. Even I do it. But when I envisioned the 4% of Black women who voted for Trump, I pictured an Omarosa Manigault, or even chicken-blood covered Azealia Banks, who loves being unpredictable. Not two women who could very well be my aunties twice removed if their hairstyles are any indication — shout out to Silk’s 27-piece.

If history is to be believed, Diamond and Silk are a caricature. They’re an on-brand minstrel show for the same Trump supporters who would probably vote not to convict the cops who could very well murder one of their relatives in the streets. For Trump, their implicit performance of tell-it-like-it-is Blackness can be strategically leveraged as self-affirmation. It’s Trump’s painfully awkward way of saying: “See. Real recognize real.”

But nothing feels “real” about Diamond and Silk. Hell, those aren’t even their real names. They coordinate their movements when they speak as if they’re rehearsing the choreography for their choir selection. They regurgitate stale alternative facts like no one’s business and are using their platform to sell “Trump Bling Pins.” Bling is what they’re calling them. In 2017.

It’s worth noting that Diamond and Silk are the only people of color that Donald Trump follows on Twitter. Their inclusion on his coveted “Following” list reeks of the same tokenism that their appearances at his rallies did. I can’t help but think that we’re being trolled.

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