Exploring the stories of women who live by a ride-or-die philosophy

Introduction to the Blog

By Amanda Parris I am so excited to welcome you to the official launch of The Ride or Die Project Blog! Initially birthed as a theatre play (still in development) and a documentary short (still brainstorming), since it’s inception in 2013 The Ride or Die Project has transcended those confines and is quickly transforming into a house of creative content production all inspired by the stories of self-identified women who live their lives by a ride-or-die philosophy. We (un)officially launched in September 2013. That month marked the release of our Volume 1 mixtape (created in collaboration with the internationally renowned deejay soundcrew Roots Redemption), the reading of the first draft of our play Other Side of the Game at the Piece of Mine Festival and was the launch of our accidental merchandise line (long story for another time). Since then I have been bombarded with questions by individuals who want to know more about what The Ride or Die Project is all about. These questions sometimes come with assumptions. These questions sometimes come with fear.  These questions sometimes come with excitement. These questions sometimes come with hope.

For many of us who grew up listening to Eve and The Lox, the notion of being ride-or-die is inextricably connected to a modern-day spin on the infamous Bonnie and Clyde – it is an idea that is highly romanticized (Jay-Z and Beyonce’s On the Run Tour branding a perfect example) and is also often viciously judged. The Ride or Die Project definitely explores those romantic stories, considering what it means to love and commit undue loyalty to those who are targeted and criminalized by the state.

However we also go beyond these tropes to consider other spaces where women’s loyalty knows no bounds. We are interested in the stories of women who are ride-or-die for their children, women who are ride-or-die for their homegirls and women who are ride-or-die for their people. We are interested in those who have been ride-or-die before the term was coined and those who continue to live this life reppin’ the name proudly.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of these kinds of stories and what most of them have in common is that they have been silenced and/or marginalized to the supporting role of a male-dominated or male-written narrative. Think back to the songs, the movies, the popular images that have helped shape your understanding of what it means to be ride-or-die. How much of it was created by the women who live(d) these realities? The Ride or Die Project is here to demand and create that space.

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Photographed by Rakhi Mutta. Models: Kyauna Clarke, Danilo McCallum, Cassy Walker, Muginga Antonio and Rich Kidd

For over a year I have been interviewing numerous women about their experiences of being ride-or-die.  In all instances, these conversations have been intimate moments of sharing that have allowed me to realize the intricate layers that go into the decisions women make and have provided room for these individuals to voice their story without interruption to a ready and open audience. This journey has been an incredible privilege for me and these stories have helped to shape the full and layered understanding of what it means to be ride-or-die that informs this project. However as women began e-mailing me and sending me Facebook messages from around the world, I realized that there needed to be another channel for these stories to be shared.

This blog is the space for these stories.

I have invited and continue to invite submissions from women who wish to share their stories – through poetry, short story, essay, visual art – or who wish to explore these issues as op-eds and critical reviews.  Each month we will feature work from a guest male contributor. For this month that person is Quentin Vercetty, my brother and the visionary artist behind our designs and logo illustrations. Each month we will also feature images from a different concept shoot. The images this month are captured by the visionary community activist and artist Rakhi Mutta who is also one of our Advisory Circle members. If you are interested in submitting to the blog, please fill out our contact form and I will be in touch within a week. Please enjoy and share these stories widely. By Amanda Parris | @amanda_parris

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