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Cultural criticism and pop culture history intertwine in this important book, which dissects how hip hop has sidelined Black women's identity and emotional well-being.
A “ride-or-die chick” is a woman who holds down her family and community. She’s your girl that you can call up in the middle of the night to bail you out of jail, and you know she’ll show up and won’t ask any questions. Her ride-or-die trope becomes a problem when she does it indiscriminately. She does anything for her family, friends, and significant other, even at the cost of her own well-being. “No” is not in her vocabulary. Her self-worth is connected to how much labor she can provide for others. She goes above and beyond for everyone in every aspect of her life—work, family, church, even if it’s not reciprocated, and doesn’t require it to be because she’s a “strong Black woman” and everyone’s favorite ride-or-die chick. To her, love should be earned, and there’s no limit to what she’ll do for it.
In this book, author, adjunct professor of sociology, and former therapist Shanita Hubbard disrupts the ride-or-die complex and argues that this way of life has left Black women exhausted, overworked, overlooked, and feeling depleted. She suggests that Black women are susceptible to this mentality because it’s normalized in our culture. It rings loud in your favorite hip-hop songs, and it even shows up in the most important relationship you will ever have—the one with yourself.
Compassionate, candid, hard-hitting, and 100 percent unapologetic, Ride or Die melds Hubbard’s entertaining conversations with her Black girlfriends and her personal experiences as a redeemed ride-or-die chick and a former “captain of the build-a-brother team” to fervently dismantle cultural norms that require Black women to take care of everyone but themselves.
Ride or Die urges you to expel the myth that your self-worth is connected to how much labor you provide others and guides you toward healing. Using hip hop as a backdrop to explore norms that are harmful to Black women, Hubbard shows the ways you may be unknowingly perpetuating this harm within your relationships. This book is an urgent call for you to pull the plug on the ride-or-die chick.
About the Author
SHANITA HUBBARD is an acclaimed writer, adjunct professor of sociology, Soros Fellow, and recipient of the James Baldwin writing residency. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Essence, Huffington Post, The Guardian, Pitchfork, and more. She was featured in the On the Record documentary and is a clinical consultant for therapists. Hubbard is also a proud HBCU graduate and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. Her greatest accomplishment is being the mom of a dope Black girl.
“Hubbard debuts with a standout study of how the lionization of the ‘ride-or-die chick’ negatively impacts Black women. . . . Effortlessly blending personal anecdotes, academic scholarship, and pop culture analysis, this is an authentic and cathartic call for change.”—Publishers Weekly
“Candid and provocative, Hubbard’s examination of the unspoken truths about Black women’s lives is well rendered and liberating. An important book about significant issues that often go unexplored.”—Kirkus
“A powerful must-read book for Black women. This engaging, thoughtful book uses hip hop as a backdrop to honor our strength and healing as a collective.” —Gabrielle Union
“This beautiful brilliant Black woman bares her soul, revealing the struggle far too many of us experience. Shanita takes us into deeply intimate moments of her own life to deconstruct why being a ‘ride or die’ is problematic in ways rarely discussed. With unapologetic strength, she challenges us to see the piercing hole this generational badge of ‘honor’ leaves open and reveals why it's time to remove it and heal.”—Tamron Hall
“With clear-eyed analysis, poignant vulnerability and notable grace, Shanita Hubbard continues the decades-old work of moving the important narratives of women and genderqueer people of the hip hop generation from the margins to the center.”—Dr. Joan Morgan, author of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost
"In a world that continues to do everything in its power to silence the voice of the Black woman, Shanita's book is the light the world so desperately needs. Ride or Die is honest and poignant about the lives of Black women. Shanita uses the beautifully complex world of hip-hop she was raised in and grew to love as fascinating entry points. But she ultimately holds that same world accountable for its shortcomings of its portrayal of Black women. It's the culture holding the culture responsible."—Justin Tinsley, author of It Was All a Dream
“I've never read a book that gives us as much as Ride or Die gives us. This miracle of a book challenges, affirms, heals, reveals, and loves like nothing I've ever come across before. Shanita Hubbard has opened herself to us all for the purpose of asking us to be better to and for the people around us. She is one of our preeminent master teachers, using Hip-Hop as her curriculum, and we are all better for having been given these lessons.” —David Dennis Jr, author of The Movement Made Us
“A warm insightful examination of the music and the culture that raises Black women to be leaders and then insists that they step out of the spotlight, Ride or Die is exactly what we need right now. If we're going to listen to Black women it can't just be for clues to what will serve the needs of others, it has to be to understand and support Black women. To be ready and able to show up and show out for all Black women the way we expect them to show up for their communities. Hubbardweaves together memoir, music, and motivation to be better to each other and to ourselves.”—Mikki Kendall, New York Times bestselling author of Hood Feminism
"Shanita masterfully navigates the complexities of Black womanhood through hip-hop’s problematic lens—as only a thought leader of her caliber can. As such, Ride or Die is much more than ‘a feminist manifesto,’ it's an impassioned testimony that implores each of us to reassess our participation in—and contributions to—the continuous destruction of Black women.”—Jay Connor, Senior Editor, Culture & Entertainment at The Root
"Ride or Die is that extremely rare 21st century book that radically explores the ties between the visible and invisible labor of Black women, and the language we use to really diminish that unfair burden of labor. It is as glorious as it is rugged. Shanita Hubbard got busy. And I am so thankful."—Kiese Laymon
“Easy read. Quick read. Great book.”—Jamilah Lemieux, writer, cultural critic, and editor
“This volume serves as a multifaceted challenge for Black women to pursue self-determination, to expect accountability and reparation when wronged, to be accountable to others and make amends when in the wrong, and to recognize and break toxic behaviors that place others' well-being as more important than one's own.”—CHOICE