Diamond and Silk on Their Formative Years as Preachers’ Kids and Their Hopes for America

How being children of a sharecropping mother and entrepreneur father shaped how they see the world
August 25, 2020 Updated: August 25, 2020

Popular conservative political commentators Diamond and Silk are so close they can finish each other’s sentences. Born just 10 months apart, the sisters, Lynnette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, had no political ambitions when they sat down together to film a video to air their opinions back in 2015. But their directness struck a chord with viewers, and they shot to fame before they even realized what was happening.

They have an interesting cast of characters to thank, as the sisters detail in their new book “Uprising,” a candid memoir that reads just the way they sound when they speak.

Silk said they had no plans for politics or fame, but they’ve told their story in their new book “so you can understand how God works.”

The book opens with a little anecdote of a vision board the sisters had in 2008; on it was a picture of the wine-colored chair that Donald Trump had sat in on “The Apprentice,” and it went onto the board with the hopes of one day being able to afford the chair. Little did they know, seven years later they would be sharing the stage with Trump during his run for president.

“While I had my eyes on the chair, God had his eyes on something much bigger for me and my sister’s life,” the book opens.

“God is not going to bring you to it if he’s not going to see you through it,” Silk added. “He had a plan and we went totally with God and this plan, we went with the flow of it, we didn’t question it, and now here we are.”

diamond and silk
Lynnette “Diamond” Hardaway (L) and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson. (Courtesy of Regnery)

Parents Who Paved the Way

In “Uprising,” the sisters go all the way back to even before their childhood, introducing their parents, Elder and Evangelist Hardaway, and the unique lives they led that shaped their children.

Their mother grew up on a sharecropping farm and lived in a cottage with holes in the roof so big she could see the stars at night, with no running water or electricity. But unlike many around her, she refused to settle for what she was given or become another statistic of poverty, and she set out to build a better life for herself. Their father is a preacher and an entrepreneur who found a way to see opportunity where others saw failure, and who together with their mother built both businesses and churches.

Profit margins weren’t big, and success was hard-won, but there was freedom in it. Silk is the oldest of six siblings; she was born in January and Diamond arrived on Thanksgiving Day that same year. They grew up hearing their parents’ stories, which undeniably shaped their own entrepreneurial spirits and ambition. But they also grew up keenly aware that other people did not always look on their family’s success positively; even relatives would respond with a mixture of disdain and envy. Learning to ignore it would prove essential later on.

“They wouldn’t walk around as victims,” Diamond said of their parents. “They knew it was going to be a better day, a better life.”

“With everything they told us and we saw, we didn’t realize that at the end of the day they were instilling the tools that we needed,” Silk said. “They gave us what we needed—they probably didn’t even know what they were doing then—but that’s what was happening.”

“When we say we were created for such a time as this, that’s how we’re able to withstand the storm,” Silk said of the mounting backlash they received as they grew in popularity.

Growing up in the center of their community came with its own set of difficulties for the girls, too. As preachers’ kids, they were expected to be community leaders, and to look, act, and dress a certain way. The weight of their parents’ expectations combined with bullying at school led to cracking under pressure, and both girls distanced themselves from religion. They candidly talk about how, despite bad memories of church, they never lost faith or their trust in God.

“We believe faith is something you should have, to sustain your life source,” Diamond said.

Their parents also taught them a lot about believing in themselves.

“That is one thing our parents taught us … Believe it and you will achieve it—and you have to know that, and that was instilled in us very early on.”

When Diamond and Silk’s videos and social media took off, they once again found themselves in the spotlight, this time for sharing their opinions on politics.

“We’ve been outspoken,” Silk said. “And being outspoken has this particular boldness of not going along with the status quo.”

For daring to say that they shouldn’t be expected to vote for a particular candidate or support this or that political movement just because they are black, the sisters have both become sought-after voices and received a great deal of backlash.

“Realizing that it was OK to think for ourselves and have a difference of opinion, it’s not that we’re controversial, what we are is opinionated,” Silk said. “But what happens is, because our opinions don’t fit someone’s narrative, they are the ones that make it controversial.”

Most of the media is left-leaning, Diamond added, and they bombard the public with the same narrative over and over until people believe the whole country adheres to this narrative.

“We have to have our own place and our own space,” Diamond said. Social media became that platform.

“When I look back at our life, growing up, we learned how to speak our mind and tell the truth about it,” Silk said. “Tell the truth, because it hurts to bite my tongue.”

“Life prepared us for today,” Diamond added. “Everything prepared us for this day, everything that we went through growing up prepared us for today.”

Changing Hearts and Minds

Diamond and Silk aren’t political pundits who talk about the Left, Right, or legislation in the abstract. Their initial interest came from lived experience, and things they saw happen in their community. The North Carolina sisters worked in textiles for several years. They saw the factories get shut down and the jobs go overseas. They knew people in their community who worked in manufacturing for decades only to be asked to train their replacements who would take those jobs out of the country. They saw businesses in their neighborhood close down, and people lose hope. That was why they took an interest in Trump’s campaign when he talked about jobs, trade, and secure borders.

“People were out of work, people were trying to figure it out, people were desperate, depressed,” Diamond said. “People who had worked in manufacturing for 30, 40 years, what were they going to do? They were told to go back to school to get retrained. Those people … now have debt because of student loans.

“This was not good for the American people; these were people destitute, not having jobs, on the corner talking about ‘will work for food,’ trying to figure it out and not being able to feed their families, send their kids to college, that’s what was happening.”

They remembered people in the community questioning things, but no one had solutions that worked.

“Manufacturing is one of the key things, especially in the South, one of the key ways people made a living, saved, bought homes, sent their children to school, and for all of that just to be ripped away from them? For the sake of what?” Silk said.

“We saw just big factories just closing down, and it didn’t make sense to us. So when you had Donald Trump come along and talk about solutions, it made sense. Before Donald Trump, no one had solutions, like Diamond said, it was, ‘Go back to school, get on food stamps.'”

Their videos started going viral, and they became even more famous after getting invited up on stage by Trump during his 2015 campaign. But two years later, the sisters realized their content wasn’t reaching as many people as it used to, and their followers were wondering why they weren’t seeing Diamond and Silk’s posts. The sisters then discovered this was deliberate.

“We did not know what the way forward was going to be, but we did know that we were not going to let these social media companies get away with it, to tell everyone what was happening,” Diamond said.

Silk spent over half a year going back and forth with companies before receiving an email stating they had been penalized for being “unsafe to the community” and the decision was final and they could not appeal. The sisters made the email public but were still accused of making things up, promoting a hoax or a conspiracy.

The decision to go public about the “shadowbanning” was just a gut feeling, as the sisters recount in their book, but they soon saw this as being part of God’s bigger plan once again. Just days after they received the email, in April 2018, Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress on an unrelated matter—and because Diamond and Silk had caused a stir online, Zuckerberg was asked about this decision. Later that month, the sisters testified before Congress themselves about what was happening on social media, and still then it was met with skepticism.

“Back then it was called a hoax, and now it’s called the truth,” Silk said.

And frankly, the pushback deserves some credit for growing Diamond and Silk’s platform. There’s a whole section in their book about how “your haters make you greater.”

“The backlash came from the black community back in 2015, but the more they hate the more we continue to educate. Since we’ve got your attention now we have to keep talking, and the more we talk the more black people started seeing what we were talking about, it was like, ‘Oh you know what, y’all are right,'” Diamond said. “And now we have those same people who used to bash us come and apologize, and now they’re on the Trump train.

“We could be at the airport and the person you least expect will walk up to us, ‘Oh my gosh, Diamond and Silk! I love you ladies!’ Even one person was like, ‘I don’t like y’all, I didn’t like y’all, but I kept listening and now I’m on the Trump train.’ We get that a whole lot, people changing their mindsets.

“People keep saying we’re in the revolution but no, no, no, Diamond and Silk were in the revolution years ago, in 2015 before it was popular to stump for Donald J. Trump, we gave people permission. What you’re seeing now is an evolution, that people are evolving into something great and they’re speaking the truth.”

“We want everybody to know that we are humbly grateful for your love and support and the best is truly yet to come,” Silk said.

Uniting America

The sisters’ real goal is to help unite America, and they had noticed that before the pandemic upended the economy, we were heading toward the right direction.

“Just look at, before this virus came along, what was happening, looking at how we were all becoming and getting along because people had jobs, people were working, people were happy,” Silk said. “I believe even crime began to go down because people were able to find jobs where they could make money, where they could feed their families. And then all of a sudden now, look at where we’re at.”

In New York City, for instance, the quick reversal has been drastic and obvious; former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton recently commented on how decades of peacekeeping had been undone in three months. Diamond and Silk aren’t afraid to be blunt about it, and they regularly explain to their viewers how much of the civil unrest they see could be manufactured because the Left does not want America to thrive and secure prosperity regardless of skin color or background.

We are not politically correct, we are politically direct,” Diamond said. 

But there is a way forward, and that is “we have to really look past our skin color and realize we are Americans first,” she said.

Silk adds that political opinions are just that—opinions. “Just because I do it this way doesn’t make me right or make it wrong, and just because you do it that way doesn’t make you right or make you wrong; different strokes for different folks—and that line of respect is gone in our country, that’s why it’s hard to have a conversation right now,” Silk said.

Diamond said: “My mission is to get to a day when we can all just be Americans without the left [using] the race card and people would go back to loving this country and being patriotic once again. Because we stay in the greatest country on earth and for us to have people in government positions, and teachers, and some leaders, that want to make Americans feel like they should be anti-American, that’s a problem for us. Because where else are you going to go where you have the freedoms that you have today? So our mission is to unite this country.”

“This is the United States, not the divided states,” Silk said.