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Ain’t Riding, Ain’t Dying: Deconstructing The Unhealthy 'Ride Or Die' Narrative

Over the years, Black women have felt both the pressure and the need to stand by Black men at all costs. Narratives such as ‘ride or die’ have enabled discourses that imply undying loyalty and commitment with complete disregard of the circumstances. Although the term has been commonly used in reference to friendships and a range of relationships, we lack understanding of its true meaning when it comes to the behaviour it perpetuates in our community and how problematic it becomes for Black women in romantic relationships. From the romanticisation of abusive behaviour to the normalisation of cheating, I intend to examine how our generation internalised tropes such as these by rewarding our women for blindly staying in unhealthy relationships where they’re mistreated and victims of negligence.

I remember on different occasions having to visit loved ones who were incarcerated and on both occasions, what struck me the most was the number of Black women that were there with me. Despite being well aware of the extensive dynamics of mass incarceration and the politics concerning systemic institutional racism, I ought to acknowledge the loyalty and devotion that Black women show their male counterparts. So, the question then leads on to where did we learn to internalise and normalise this ‘blind faith’ in our men? This ‘blind faith’ can also be identified as a ‘ride or die’ mentality. The term describes the unconditional devotion that someone (especially women) demonstrates towards someone they cherish, even amid potential harm. This type of devotion is often praised as the ‘ultimate demonstration of love’ towards a partner. Yet, I strongly argue that this loyalty code entails nothing more than unhealthy standards of love and companionship.