David Trinko: Pink Diamond Ladies teach traditional values

Amber Basares started thinking about becoming a lady — not just a woman or a female, but a lady — when she watched her young niece try to step into a pair of her high heels around Christmas one year.

“To see her step into my shoes, a light went off,” Basares said. “It made me realize that they are really sponges. Watching her stumble and still have grace, watching her endure and take the pain and still just love the title of being able to walk in heels, it put a light in me and made me want to kind of help with that.”

That, and the strict aesthetic standards of her grandmother, the late Earlean Nettles-Turner, led Basares, 35, to found the Pink Diamond Ladies in 2019. The program, aimed for inner city girls age 6 to 27, aims to help young Black women in Lima learn about their rights, etiquette and how to present themselves in the best possible light.

Basares, a Lima Senior and Apollo Career Center graduate, remembers the unfailing eye of her grandmother, a mother of 10 who moved to Lima from the South and who died in January 2019.

“As soon as she opened the door every day, she would look me up and down,” Basares recalled. “‘Where are your earrings, your glasses? Your bra strap is not tucked in.’ She was adjusting me because she wanted me ready for the scrutiny of society.”

The group started in 2019 at North Middle School in Lima. The program shrunk during COVID-19, like many fledgling programs. It continues with Basares and a half-dozen young ladies, who will be on hand Monday for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast in downtown Lima, helping the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s Sigma Mu Omega chapter with the annual event.

“They told me last year that it’s the highlight of their year, being praised and to have people say thank you to them,” Basares said. “… It gives you a sense of pride. You feel connected to your community. You feel empowered. You feel like you belong. You have a reason to do good and not do harm to others because you feel needed and valued.”

The Pink Diamond Ladies, who can be found online at facebook.com/PinkDiamondLadi, often project an image that goes counter to the general culture. That’s the idea.

“It’s like oil and water when we first meet because in society, the world and the music, this generation is hearing, ‘Be loose. Be wild. Be flamboyant. Be open,’” Basares said. “And here I am saying, ‘Be a lady. Be quiet. Be simple. Cross your legs. No need to be loud.’”

The image of a diamond explains the three-step process for the Pink Diamond Ladies. First there’s mining, then on to cleaning and finally the pressure phase. Then the process starts all over again.

Don’t mistake the Pink Diamond Ladies as powerless or victims, though. At a recent gathering, the members received the ACLU’s student’s rights handbook. Basares explains the program’s goal as “power and exclusivity, not giving access to everybody and not sprinkling yourself across everywhere.”

That includes being prepared before a class or a meeting and making sure you’re appropriately dressed for an occasion.

“You can see how they’ll be as an adult, and we’re not giving up on this generation,” she said. “We want to say they’re not our kids; it’s not our problem. But these are community issues. This is a Lima issue.”

Many people over the years have talked about starting minority mentoring programs. Basares didn’t just talk; she acted.

Her dream is to have one of her members win the Miss Black Ohio USA pageant and scholarship program. She also looks forward to the day one of her Pink Diamond Ladies comes back to help a new generation, helping young women see how they approach an issue is just as important as how they solve it.

They’re hoping in February to share the “Black Barbie Documentary” at a venue. They’re also planning the Lima Ninja Warrior from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 23 at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, offering a challenging circuit course for people ages 6 to 19. People can reserve a spot at the free event online at bit.ly/47Eivjb.

The Pink Diamond Ladies program offers a continuing legacy, helping young Black women step into grown-up shoes while adhering to the careful eye of a past generation.

“It drove me to want to be that blanket space for young girls, the way that grandmothers help care for them and fill a need, fill a void,” Basares said. “Make sure you have slips on. Make sure they have undershirts on. Make sure their legs are crossed, earrings, things of that sort of nature. It’s the little extra that makes a difference about a lady. It’s what I was taught by my grandmother.”


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.