I recently read an interview with the music artist Kelis that was published on HuffPost Black Voices. In the interview, she talked about her previous relationship with the rapper Nas. Spoiler alert! This article might touch on some things that may be difficult to understand for people who don't listen to hip-hop music and are not familiar with the culture surrounding it, that is why I encourage you, even more, to continue reading.
In the article, Kelis did not only speak about her own relationship and personal experiences but talked about relationships within the hip-hop environment in general. She touched on the "ride-or-die"-chick mentality many black women within (and even outside) this setting have. Being a "ride-or-die"-chick in other terms means being a woman who would support and stand by her man no matter the current situation or circumstances. To take it a little further, that type of woman would do pretty much anything to prove that she stood by her man. At this point, some people might raise their eyebrows and wonder why anybody would do that but don't be so quick to judge. While Kelis spoke about how she was drawn in by the persona of Nas, hip-hop music and its culture that solidified her decision to be down with him no matter what happened, I tried to look at it from a different angle.
If I consider my own cultural background, for example, these values of being there for your family (which includes your significant other) and taking up the extra burden even if it may entail putting yourself last, is deeply rooted in our belief system. I grew up with the mindset that as a woman my duty was to hold the family together - no matter what happened. And that is the mindset I carried along with me throughout the years. What does this mean in practical terms? These words implied that I would always come second and that it was my responsibility to put other people's needs before your own. Kind of contradicts with today's self-centered society, isn't it? So, why would this mindset and approach to relationships make sense?
Back to Kelis' interview, the core message of her interview was that having that ("ride-or-die") kind of mindset was slowly killing women, in her opinion black women in particular. Why? Because what was received in return was not love and care, on the contrary very often it meant enduring infidelity and mental and physical abuse as was also the case in her relationship. The article then ended with reference to a song written by Nas, where he rapped about his broken relationship with Kelis and that he would continue on his journey to pick up another woman that would finally turn out to be "the truest type" (a loyal, honest and good woman). As disappointing hearing these words must have been for Kelis, I would like to point out the positive aspect of all this and that is: You are the truest type if you decide to be!
I applaud anyone who has the ability to step out of the "me"-zone to step into the "we"-zone, be it male or female. I think that loving and making sacrifices for others is always a win-win situation, no matter what the outcome may be in the end. "Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
Now, it should always be remembered that being there for others doesn't equal neglecting yourself because if you do not love yourself and take care of yourself you wouldn't even have the ability to care for others.
In conclusion, did Kelis waste her time with Nas? Were all her efforts for nothing? In my opinion, only if she decides to see it that way. If not for anything else, at least now she knows that she can be there and make sacrifices for another person. I think the term "ride-or-die" is inappropriate anyway because it has a negative connotation to it. How can death be positively associated with a relationship? So, I would not advise anyone to be anybody's "ride-or-die", but to rather be the "love-and-live" kind of partner. Often we think that we do things without getting anything in return. Not getting what you wanted or expected doesn't mean you have failed or wasted your time. On the contrary, to love is always a win!