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Why Diamond ‘Lavish’ Reynolds is the Epitome of Black Girl Magic

Diamond Lavish Reynolds holds her daughter and speaks into a microphone

Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds and her daughter.

“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”

–Audre Lorde

Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, girlfriend of the late Philando Castile — who was gunned down by police last week — gives new life to Audre Lorde’s words. Reynolds and her four-year old daughter witnessed her boyfriend’s murder after a routine trip to the grocery store and barber shop in preparation for Castile’s upcoming birthday. Castile did everything he could to comply with the officer that pulled him over, but compliance wasn’t enough for his life to be respected — or spared.

Despite witnessing a severely traumatic incident, Reynolds didn’t wait for the coroner’s report or a press conference. Instead, she showed the world what legalized murder looks like in 2016 — live on Facebook.

“I didn’t do this for pity, I didn’t do it for fame. I did it so the world knows that the police are not here to protect and serve us. They are here to assassinate us. They are here to kill us because we are black.”

In the traditional context of white America, Reynolds shouldn’t have been allowed to tell her story. She’s a Chicago-born black woman, a hotel housekeeper, a single mother, an automatic suspect who can easily be held in police custody simply for being black and in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet, none of that matters because Diamond Reynolds is deliberate and afraid of nothing.

Did Reynolds end with the Facebook Live post and retreat to grieve peacefully? HELL NO. As soon as she was released from police custody, she marched to the governor’s mansion to demand action and held her own press conference to share her story with the masses. Many people are bewildered by her sense of calm and coherence. 

Related: Lavish Reynolds Speaks After Released From Police Custody: “The Police Took Over My Facebook” [VIDEO]

The Washington Post tried to diagnose her radical truth-telling in an article titled “This is the Brain on Horror: The Incredible Calm of Diamond Lavish Williams.” In the article,  a trauma expert attributed her behavior to an abnormal dissociative state stating, “She’s grasping for dear life to these phrases, to this phone. You can think of it as a life raft to try to get through this.” 

But this expert missed a critical piece in Reynolds’ story. Although she has experienced a severely traumatic event, her brain isn’t “on horror,” it’s on revolution. Reynolds knows why she can’t wait to demand justice. Her words and her phone are her life rafts not due to a psychological fluke, but because she knows a fundamental truth understood by many black women in United States: no one will demand justice on our behalf. We must do it ourselves.

“I’m Trayvon Martin. You’re Trayvon Martin. I’m Sandra (Bland) you’re Sandra (Bland) We are the people and we can’t keep allowing these people who are supposed to serve and protect us take us away from our families.”

These are Reynolds’ words hours after being released from police custody and learning that her boyfriend was dead. This is why Reynolds is the epitome of Black Girl Magic. After being treated like a criminal, she marched to the governor to hold the police department on trial. After having her humanity trampled on, she still created a sounding board for the world to hear her narrative.

Reynolds is wearing her voice, defining herself for herself, and multiplying her courage through the masses. Reynolds reminds us that Black Girl Magic is more than just a hashtag; it’s a way of being. BGM is when you reflect your inner power to a world that attempts to lie to you and say your voice and your life don’t matter. We see you, Diamond; shine on. 


Heather was born in Chicago and raised in Pasadena, California and proudly claims Oakland as her adopted home. She has a B.A. in African-American Studies from Smith College (proud Smithie), and a Masters in Education Leadership from New York University. Heather's spent the past decade working in the field of educational equity and advocacy. She currently teaches Child and Adolescent Development at San Francisco State University and manages a blog called What's Happening Black Oakland? She also contributes to Blavity, a blog for black millennials. Heather's committed to writing interesting and relevant stories that aren't being covered by the mainstream media, while straying away from the single story that is usually imposed on people of color. In her free time she enjoys traveling and going to live shows.

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