Gucci Mane & Keyshia Ka’Oir: The Ride or Die Trope on Black Women

Are you a ride or die chick? Or should I say “ride or die b***h?” The ride or die trope on black women has been present throughout the age of hip hop and black love. With no real roots or origination, the ride or die trope was established in the midst of music and hip hop culture. Some readers may ask what is the “true” definition of a ‘ride or die chick’ while some may already have an idea or created their own definition for the phrase. Now, many definitions are tied to the what a ‘ride or die’ is. Hip hop’s definition of ride or die has plagued what black love is, and love in general. According to hip hop, the media, and the latest ring of artists and entertainers, ride or die refers to who women are willing to support their partner despite any suspicions of being put into harm’s way and who are always willing to have their significant other’s back in any situation, dangerous or not.

It becomes a conversation of unhealthy relationships versus healthy relationships. What makes a relationship unhealthy? We see in the media today, from music videos to live performances to reality television shows just how much praise a ‘ride or die chick’ receives. Reality shows such as Love & Hip Hop and Black Ink are prime examples of displaying women constantly enduring abuse, neglect, and mistreatment from their partners, sticking around, and eventually “forgetting that it ever happened.” These women are praised for being someone’s significant other in the industry, rather than being praised for being a person in general.

This ride or die trope has normalized unhealthy relationships, forcing women to believe that the longer they express their genuine loyalty and high tolerance for violence and abuse, the ‘easier’ things will ‘eventually’ get. Women’s bodies have been used as punching bags while music, movies, and tv shows continuously portray being a ‘ride or die chick’ as something of high value and necessary to help a man survive and thrive in the world we live in. This trope has fostered the trend of mistreating and belittling women. This trope has become idolized and internalized by many women in society and women in hip hop, forcing and instilling toxic beliefs. It’s almost like the most common ‘type’ of relationship we see today, everyday. On the contrary, relationships, including ones with ride or die chicks, are diverse.

An example of portraying different methods of being a ‘ride or die chick’ has been seen through Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’Oir’s relationship and recent marriage. Their love story is no secret, but if you missed out, here’s a small highlight: Gucci Mane and Ka’Oir have been together since they met on the set of one of his music videos back in 2010. She stated in an interview, “I think it was love at first sight,” she says. “He was nothing like I expected him to be. I was charmed and confused at the same time. I was expecting that straight gangsta hood s–t, and it was none of that.” From then on, Ka’Oir has remained a huge part of Mane’s life. The ‘ride or die’ in her began when Mane was imprisoned from 2013 to 2016, where she held him down each year of his imprisonment, establishing and launching businesses (which definitely accumulated some couple of millions for the two).  Ka’Oir had a gross $6 million waiting for him from the $2 million he originally left her to launch her business. Following his release in May 2016, he proposed to Ka’Oir in November at the Hawks basketball game; they later married in October 2017 with wedding adding up to a gross $1.7 million.

Now, don’t get it twisted. Every relationship, every marriage has their issues. Although everything from the outside looks peachy perfect, Gucci Mane made it his duty to voice his truths in his latest memoir, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. He revealed to his fans that he had to continuously battle with his mental state and addiction in the midst of felony convictions and probation. He pressed his issues onto Ka’Oir, verbally abusing her during phone calls. “‘Why the f— haven’t you come down here and bonded me out yet?'” and“I’d gone crazy on her, first privately on the phone when she’d tried to talk me off the ledge and then on Twitter.” are things Gucci Mane recalls in his memoir prior to his release from prison. But despite the chaos, and in the midst of his troubles, Ka’Oir stayed down for her man.

You see, every woman is different. Every woman moves differently when it comes down to their relationship. Some ‘ride or die’ labels may appear worse than others because although upholding and maintaining that “strong black woman” image is merely what we know, it can also be the result of pain and deceit. It is up to every woman to make decisions involving aspects of their relationship. While some can press on, some would rather hold on. While some examples of ‘staying strong’ are distasteful, others are experiencing the normal glitches in relationships/marriages and working past them.

The strong black woman originates back to slavery, where despite all of the physical, emotional, and mental abuse posed against black women, they never gave up and continued to embody what it means to stay strong in light of turmoil.

Black women are constantly viewed as strong and the ride or die trope can sometimes be seen as a barrier to them, merely because they have always felt the need to uphold that strong, dependent demeanor and presence...dismissing the violence, abuse, and constant infidelity their partners put them through. It can be the cause of tumultuous relationships, perpetuating black male dominance over women and encouraging black male manipulation over women. It’s a slow kill...meaning this trope is slowly deteriorating women’s mentalities, confusing their expectations in faith, faithfulness, and monogamy. Now, this doesn’t go to show that Keyshia Ka’Oir isn’t happy, or should not have stuck around for Gucci Mane, but simply a message to my women, my black women, that we do not have to ‘ride or die’ for abuse of all kinds, neglect, mistreatment, belittlement, infidelity, and honestly...this list can go on. Do know that being a strong, black woman doesn’t entail being on the other side of your partner’s fist. Do know that in general, self-care is important. No relationship is perfect, but no woman deserves any sort of abusive, unsympathetic, unprofessional boxer for a partner. Feel me?

Women are becoming more prevalent in headlines and global stories, raising the bar. With all of the abuse and pain women have endured throughout the years, different campaigns and organizations have launched on behalf of their well-being. Pay attention. We matter too.