Writing Black

Don’t Ask Shanita Hubbard to be Your Ride or Die Chick

Episode 13

Maiysha brings on professor and writer of the Feminist Manifesto for Black Women, Shanita Hubbard. Maiysha and Shanita have a very candid conversation about being a “Ride or Die Chick,” what it means to be a Black woman in America and how we need to break so many cultural “norms” that actually hurt Black women. 

[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified. 

Maiysha Kai [00:00:07] Welcome back to Writing Black. I am your host, Maiysha Kai, lifestyle editor here at theGrio, and I am here this week with somebody who I am so excited to talk to. You know how you have like those friends that you make. You know, you, like, maybe meet them once and you make them on social. And I’m like, oh, you’re like my social like bestie. This is one of those people like for me who I’m always looking forward to what she tweets or what she has to say. And apparently, I’m not the only one. So, Shanita Hubbard is here with us today. She is, you might know her from any number of articles and op eds, etc., but she also has a new book coming out called Ride or Die: A Feminist Manifesto for the Well-Being of Black Women. And as a Black woman, I can say, yeah, this was recommended. This is recommended reading. I will say it at the top of show. I never say that, but Shanita, welcome to Writing Black. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:01:04] Thank you so much. Can I just say I’m very excited to be here and just like a quick joke. But I had a meeting with my publicity director, she told me. Of course I knew about the show, so she. She didn’t know that I already knew you. Like, I’m already, like, a fan of yours. The whole me and my head. Yeah, straight up love fest, right. So then my publicist was like, oh, we pitched her. She put you on the maybe list and waiting to hear back. I was like, What? 

Maiysha Kai [00:01:28] There was no maybe. There was no maybe. There’s no maybe. And, you know, what probably happen is I was like, you know, we launch this podcast a little later than we thought. You know, I joined theGrio at the top of this year, 2022 in January, and we thought we would be launching in the spring. And then it got pushed back to late summer. So that is what had happened. But you were never maybe to me, honey,. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:01:53] I was laughing.  

Maiysha Kai [00:01:56] I will email her. Listen, I would dm you personally. Yeah. Now, listen, I am so excited to have you on to have a real chat, which we have never done, which is great, but also because this book. So, Ride or Die, first of all, I know many people will be engaged by the title alone, so kudos on that. But I’m going to be honest with you, I was triggered. I was triggered. I was like, oh, you don’t know my life. Like, you know, you don’t have I’m living. You know, you like shout out people on the south side of Chicago who maybe I do or do not know. And I was like, You don’t know. You don’t you don’t know my life. You know, listen, you’ve written a lot of things and you are also an academic. Why was this a topic that you wanted to delve into? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:02:52] That is an amazing question. And because I know that for us as Black women, right, we are often perceived as the mules of the world. Right. There’s this expectation that we come in and save the world, whether we are saving America from itself, whether we are saving, you know, that homegirl or that homeboy for the 50-11th time, there’s just an expectation that we are saviors. But it’s actually deeper than that. Like, we look at our, for a lot of us, I want to speak like, you know, like we’re a monolith, but a lot of us look at ourselves like that is our role. That is what we’re supposed to do. Right? That is what, in fact, a lot of us feel like. We can’t we don’t we’re not even supposed to aren’t even worthy of receiving love unless we operate like that first. So I really wanted to dispel that myth and that lie because it’s not helping for us. 

Excerpt [00:03:42] The Ride or Die Chick is synonymous with some of our foremothers who love our families deeply but never learn the delicate balance of loving others while protecting their own emotional needs. They taught us how to keep our family close, how to preserve family traditions, and how to raise brilliant Black girls who will grow to be amazing Black women. 

Maiysha Kai [00:04:04] Yeah. Receiving love or receiving support, you know, because often it’s like there can be love, but there’s not support in the same way that we give it. And I definitely you know, I love that you made some like, first of all, I love what you just said about saving America from itself because. Listen I mean it just the irony of that whole that whole, you know, thing is, you know, we live with that every day that every day. Yeah. And especially now, you know, midterms, all this kind of stuff that’s going on. But I also I was really struck, so when I say I was triggered, it wasn’t just actually, by the way, that you juxtapose what you call a riide or die girl or a woman or chick, as The Lox said. And you and I are of the same era, so I was like, Yeah. But it’s also the professional thing that you point out I thought was really striking in terms of because I know I’ve been I have been guilty of this and I know I have never necessarily won by being the ride or die chick at work. And I think that’s tricky for for Black women in particular. Like, you know, this thing where we feel the need to prove ourselves and to prove that we can do all the work and we do all the things. And like that superwoman complex goes in, like, overdrive, right? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:05:26] Mm hmm. 

Maiysha Kai [00:05:28] But also, I think our burnout is is seriously under acknowledged. So, like, you know, that part to me, I just and you take that on really early, so it’s like, thank you. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:05:43] Tthank you so much for reading that and noting that because a lot of times when people hear ride or die or you hear that Black women are, you know, considered to be the muse of the world right there, we don’t tend to think of it in other aspects of our life. We think about it in relationship wise. Right. We, of course, and like you and I were like joking but not joking. We thinking about it in terms of like social justice and activism, but also how we operate at our job. Wherever you go, there you are, right? If you are that right or die to be everybody’s end all, be all, that doesn’t stop when you’re at work and the dangerous implications are there as well. 

Maiysha Kai [00:06:15] Yeah, listen, I have I have a couple of friends who always tell me I’m too good at being what I’m too good at. Someone’s going to leave that right there. But you also do something and you do it in the first chapter. I and I’m going to applaud you for your bravery in doing so. You frame this in the context of the Black church. And you know what’s interesting to me, actually, about your book, so, you know, we started this podcast to talk about Black writers and Black words and how we use language. But also, you know, when you can’t really talk about Black writers or the way that we approach language without talking about Christianity and the impact it has on Black people, African-Americans in particular as a whole. Right. And. I thought it was a brave move. I just don’t know how to say that. I thought it was brave. But I also thought it was necessary. Why was it necessary to you? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:07:24] Because like you said, like there’s no separation, whether we realize it or not. There’s no separation between church and home. 

Maiysha Kai [00:07:30] Like you say that line in the book and I was like, even I had the exact same reaction when you said. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:07:37] Even if you never step foot in a church, the person that raised you has, like the Black woman in your life have and probably the woman in their life has. Right. So there is a pattern that’s replicated that happens inside the church that we don’t necessarily speak of as candidly and that we see it manifest. But it’s certainly alive and well there. And to your point, like we can talk about this openly, right? It’s easy to talk about those ride or dies. Those ride or dies that did a bid with her man. Those ride or dies that works 75 days a week and don’t take a day off. It’s easy to talk about those, but we don’t really talk about Sister Big Hat in the church. Right. And how she performs in numerous labor, some in the name of God, some because there’s this cultural implication that’s what’s expected from her and how that sometimes gets exploited. And again, wherever you go, there you are. It’s happening at work, communities, relationship and in a church. 

Excerpt [00:08:30] She’s in our church passing out Bible verses to heal us. She’s opened our relationships. She’s the model of how we mother. We replicate her in our careers, pouring all that we’ve learned from her into boardrooms and spaces that don’t even know who she is or why she is. 

Maiysha Kai [00:08:47] Yeah, you know, and I am one of those people, you know, I have not been a regular church since probably I was you know, a pre-adolescent. And still I was like, Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I don’t know that we realized how that dichotomy, like, kind of spills over. Like, I love that that whole idea of, like, there’s no separation between church and hood, especially given where we are allowed politically in the world. Because I think that even the very, very, very, very rare chance that the rest of the world gets over it. I don’t I think that’s something we’ll still be living with and grappling with is the impact of what it means to be a Black Christian on the Black community. You know, like the ride or die, the rideor die chick would have been so exalted in, you know, pop culture, pop cultural vernacular. And you really both, I think you did something really nuanced here, which is that you still exalt her while also kind of deconstructing what that means, really. Is there a way that you’re hoping that will reframe what it means to be a ride or die? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:10:09] Absolutely, I will love, I want us to, I actually want us to reject the notion of a ride or die. Right. So at ot’s core, this ride or die is this woman that’s giving, tremendously giving every ounce of herself with no expectation of reciprocity. Right. And you can it’s easy for me to exalt her because she was me. Right? She lives in my family. You know, she helped raise me. I went to church. 

Maiysha Kai [00:10:36] Me snd you, your momma and your cousin, too, I promise you. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:10:42] I see her right. And love without seeing someone’s flaws is not love at all, it’s just like infatuation, right? So I see her. I see eyes like, you know me. She’s us. But I want us to continue to love each other. Show up for each other. Well, with a caveat. Have that expectation of reciprocity. Protect yourself. Know that isn’t required for you to receive love. Like so, yes, I want to reframe that. And I want us to like uproot that whole notion of, you know, we have to operate like that if we want to receive something healthy. And I also want to see that that’s not healthy. 

Excerpt [00:11:19] I want it to be seen as a ride or die chick in the most romantic way. I wanted to be the Bonnie to a Clyde, a beautiful woman who was happily in an us against the world relationship. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:11:33] So yes, I want us to reframe it and also deconstructed and pick it apart and be honest with ourselves. Right. I thank you. And I am so thankful and grateful A. You read it. And B. You were honest with it, right? Because it’s easy to kind of look at this like a they. Right. But you allowed you were honest with yourself and engaging with the text. So I’m so thankful. 

Maiysha Kai [00:11:52] We’ll be back in a minute with more Writing Black. 

[00:11:54] TheGrio Black Podcast Network is here and it’s everything you’ve been waiting for news, talk, entertainment, sports and today’s issues all from the Black perspective. Ready for real talk and Black culture amplified. Be inspired. Listen to new and established voices now on theGrio Black Podcast Network. Listen today on theGrio Mobile App and tune in everywhere great podcast are heard. 

Maiysha Kai [00:12:25] Welcome back to Writing Black. I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t know that there’s any, you know, woman identifying Black person that I know who will not identify with this on some level. Like I really feel like and I love that you also you broke this down further to say that this was not about like I’m this is this is not a class issue. Right. So you said earlier that, you know, that that oft repeated phrase that we say that Black people are not a monolith. It is true. But that said, ride or dies aren’t either. And this idea that we should be or whatever that, you know, entails it spans so much further than, you know, hood chicks, for instance or whatever. Like, you know, I’m self admittedly bougie as hell and I’m like, yeah, this is me. I do that. I know, you know, so I don’t like it’s not this is definitely to me more of this is a an intersectional like Black woman thing that we do, you know, where we expected to be, the pillars, not just our community but everything else. Right. Um, and I, you know, I ask that last question was a bit of a trick question because I, you know, I admittedly I did read the book, so I know that part of you were saying, we need to reject this thing, we need to be anti-ride or die. And I will admit one of my favorite phrases the last years was like, well, where are we riding to? Like, why we got to die? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:13:59] Girl, you aint riding me till I die. That’s been. You ain’t riding me till I die.  

Maiysha Kai [00:14:09] I’m sorry. I’m not queen, and you’re not slim, and no, like, I don’t want to do it. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:14:14] Listen. Listen. 

Maiysha Kai [00:14:17] But I love you. I love you. Would you would you would you say that? Okay, so would you would you let’s talk etymology for a second. Would you say a ride or die is the same as a Pick Me? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:14:30] Oh, girl they cousins. Like, you know what I mean like, yes, like that, yes. 

Maiysha Kai [00:14:34] I mean, I have to ask because I mean, you know, we’ve. We live in a social media culture now. I mean, we didn’t necessarily grow up in one, but that’s where we live now. And when I look at like the Pick Mes, I’m like, Oh, you guys are really ride or die. Like you’re just you will literally go down. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:14:48] They’ll do the absolute most. 

Maiysha Kai [00:14:50] Like this is the hill you going to die on? You will go down in a blaze of glory. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:14:55] Those pick mes are probably like the literal form that Kiss described in a song when he’s talking about, you know, make you use your credit card twice in the mall, you triflin’. 

The Lox [00:15:03] In the fall. Make her use a credit card twice at a store. Might make you do it tomorrow, you trifilin’, shhh. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:15:09] They’d be like, I got you because I want to build you. King. So, yes. 

Maiysha Kai [00:15:14] Well, I love that you brought that up. So the other thing I wanted to ask you about again, so this is a podcast about writing is that you in a very interesting way, have also written a book about other writers, right? Like this whole premise is very much based on a phrase that was, you know, coined by lyricists. I love the fact that you’re like, if this isn’t even like if we’re really talking about like the lexicon of songwriting, this is even like a good song. Like, it’s just like. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:15:41] Like for real. I’m from Yonkers. Like, I am like hip hop to my core. I’m from Yonkers, I love The Lox. That’s not even ya’ll best of ya’ll best. 

Maiysha Kai [00:15:48] Right. 

The Lox [00:15:51] I need a Ride or Die Chick. I rock a icy out chain with an earring in my tongue. Yo, yea, what’s up, ma? What’s going on? Know, you know, Kiss. With the hot flow and the cold wrist. 

Maiysha Kai [00:15:59] No real talk. And we’re going to double back to that. I hope you are enjoying this conversation as much as I am. We’ll be back in a minute with more Writing Black. 

[00:16:09] Introducing Dear Culture with Panama Jackson on theGrio Black Podcast Network. Bring your friends for the shenanigans and stay for the edutainment. As Panama Debates Culture Wars, Janet Jackson versus Michael. Blackfessions, Blackmendations and everything Black. Listen, today on theGrio mobile app for all the Black culture conversations you don’t want to miss. Also available wherever great podcasts are heard. 

Maiysha Kai [00:16:37] Welcome back to Writing Black. But like, yeah, this whole idea of, like, you know, like people taking a phrase and running with it, like, you know, like, how did this one man’s philosophy become, you know, I shouldn’t say one man.  I know there are multiple people in The Lox, but.

Shanita Hubbard [00:16:58] Real honestly. That’s a great question. The reason why my song because we laugh and joke and like yell at all of the laugh songs like the reason why that phrase like rings the loudest or true. And we still use it in to this day. I mean, it wasn’t like created by The Lox, right? But they helped to popularize like, coin it. It is because they gave us a label for a definition for a behavior or a trait that we have known for generations and generations. So even if the term itself ride or die is new, the description, the meaning, you know what I mean, the type of relationship dynamic that isn’t new. So that’s lived on before us, you know, and it probably will continue to live on, you know, after us. So that’s what it is. It’s not that because they just tapped into something that was preexisting and they just boxed it up and gave us this nice little label. 

Maiysha Kai [00:17:48] I mean, yeah, I mean, as my producer says, it’s like, you know, they made it like a badge of honor to be that. Um, and, you know, when I talk about how you really made this book about writers and referencing other the writers, you know, you start this book out talking about the Combahee Richard Excuse me, Combahee River Collective. I know where I got Richard from anyway. But, you know, I think to myself, like. Damn like, you know, all this work that so many amazing, amazing people are doing to, you know, a magnify that work that was done 40 years ago or 50 years ago and. You know, bring it. It’s like, do you ever feel like. I mean, do you feel like you’re screaming into the void with this? I mean, you’re again, you’re also an educator. You’re you know, you’re you’re doing so many things. What what is this? What do you hope people will grab from this? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:18:55] That’s a, you’re good at this. 

Maiysha Kai [00:18:58] And I now, listen, I’m also deeply interested in what my peers have to say. Like, I think, like, this is how we feed each other. So, like, that’s why we started the podcast. And that’s why. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:19:11] So, but no, we, I don’t believe that screaming into the void because I feel like there is something different opening. Right. I feel like women are saying like, you know, you starting to see like hashtag soft life. I feel like there’s a whole generation of women that are pulling away from that, that are asking the questions like, wait, where are we riding to? Oh, I can’t. There’s a lot. So I feel like there’s a whole movement of women asking these type of questions. And what do I want people to get from this? I want it to hopefully for people to engage with it the way you did. I want it to be a mirror. I want for people to to see themselves in it’s right and holding up a mirror. And then sometimes we do this thing right. When we’re looking in the mirror, when we don’t like the reflection, we tend to take a shot at the person holding it, right? 

Maiysha Kai [00:19:55] Yes. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:19:56] I want people to not do that. I want people to seriously engage with what they’re seeing and what they’re sitting and sitting at and find a way to break that pattern in their own lives, because that’s where it starts. And then in their family’s life and their younger daughter’s life, if they have one. Right. So, yes, to answer the first part of question, nope, I have so much faith in these younger Black girls who are like, I wish I knew what you knew at 20 because I’m just hearing it and I’m seeing it and I just want us, you know, our generation and a little bit older. So engage in it more critically and honestly. 

Maiysha Kai [00:20:28] We will be back in a minute with more Writing Black. 

[00:20:31] TheGrio Black Podcast Network is here and it’s everything you’ve been waiting for news, talk, entertainment, sports and today’s issues all from the Black perspective. Ready for real talk and Black culture amplify. Be Inspired. Listen to new and established voices now on theGrio Black Podcast Network. Listen today on theGrio Mobile App and tune in everywhere great podcast are heard. 

Maiysha Kai [00:21:02] Welcome back to Writing Black. You know, but I guess the reason I ask that, too, is because, like, part of me is like and listen, there’s so many things I want to discuss with you. You know, I think even for those of us who maybe did know it or had an inkling of it, you know, I mean, like I was in college studying, you know, Bell Hooks and Patricia Williams, you know, like all these voices and and really rooted in my Black feminism and my very feminist, you know, college that I went to. And still and still, you know, the cultural pressure, I think, to show up a certain way. I mean, heck, I hesitate to say this, but I’m also like when I look at the 53%, I’m like, hey, listen. That that gender card that plays really strong sometimes. You know, I’m also interested because you have worn so many titles, you know, you are this is, to my understanding, your first book, which is like, wow, to me, that’s wow to me. Because like to me, you’ve been such a prominent voice for such a long time. I can’t believe nobody’s tapped you to do this before now. But you are a professor, you’re a journalist. You are an acclaimed writer and columnist. You know. I know for a fact. As a writer myself, as a columnist myself, that the backlash can be very strong. And you have now chosen to not just like these don’t just live in a column that maybe you’ll go be archived by, you know, The New York Times or somebody like is now in a book. What are you how do you brace yourself, I guess is the better question. Against the inevitable, you know, backlash against whatever somebody perceives to be Black feminism, because, you know, that’s become a dirty phrase. Like, how do you how do you buffer yourself? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:22:58] Can we just be honest here? Whenever you are, It’s been hard to write right at every stage. I had to challenge myself to tell the truth. I had to tell it myself, to be honest. And when I found myself hesitant, there were chapters that will harder to write than some. Right. So there was a chapter on the corner. Right. I’m talking about like what it’s like not critiquing Common’s song The Corner. But a Common’s song The Corner. He’s talking about a very unique perspective. He’s talking about Black men across America. Just what the experience is like in a hood and in a corner and what this means to him and what this means to them. 

Common [00:23:34] Memories on corners with the fo’s and the mo’s. Walk to the store for the rose, talking straightforward to. Got Uncle Zach smoking something blow up they nose, to cope with the lows. The wind is cold and it blows. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:23:46] That means something very different for those of us who grew up a little bit more developed than the rest and you walking past these corners as a like a 12 year old child and he’s grown men hollering at you, grabbing your butt and all this other stuff, right. So these things mean something different. So I remember like writing that chapter and going deeper and it’s very hard to share these stories because I’m naturally completely really protective of our brothers. 

Maiysha Kai [00:24:10] Yeah. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:24:10]  I’m standing there like, I don’t want people to feel like. I was telling my truth still being protective of a Black man while I’m sitting there. And it’s just me and my laptop in there like, I don’t want people to feel like I am saying Black men are sexual predators. I’m not saying that. I am saying amongst us, some of us are sexual predators. Some of them are sexual predators. 

Excerpt [00:24:29] In terms of outward appearances. Mika and I were polar opposites. Our bodies may have been different, but when we sat in our middle school lunch room and exchanged stories about the men on the corner, our accounts were almost identical. “Girl, you know Terry was outside trying to get with me again?” I would divulge to my friend hoping my nonchalant tone was believable. “Eww. Isn’t he like 20 or something? That’s gross.” 

Maiysha Kai [00:24:55] Some of us are. And if that’s if that’s your community, if your community is only Black like, you know, then those are the people you know. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:25:03] So I’m like, it’s hard to say among those of our experiences, right? So I had to really weigh with that. Like what’s more important to me? I can’t coddle invisible people’s feelings when I’m trying to speak the truth for Black girls and Black woman who don’t have this platform that I do. So I know that some people that may not sit well with some people, but it’s more important to me that those of us who share some of these experiences, who are still trying to reconcile, who still try to connect the dots between some of the things they were taught as children or experiencing some of the things that they’re doing, any own relationships. Right. I feel a responsibility and and a greatest and a great sense of protection for them. Right. To them. So I can’t coddle invisible, you know what I mean? So I understand that people may not agree with the method, and I get that. But if I only wrote about things that I feel like is going to get me. Yes, girls retweets and snaps. I wouldn’t even be Shanita Rae Hubbard, like I wouldn’t even be a writer because I’ve never like nothing in my writing has been like that easy breezy cute soft stuff. 

Maiysha Kai [00:26:02] I love that. Yeah. Stay true to yourself. I mean, you know, listen, I’m going to just as an aside, Common and I grew up in the same neighborhood, in the same city, and I know that we had very different experiences being on the corner and my life. Listen, I used to have men follow me home from school and, you know, say stuff to me. I’m like, That’s just not your experience and that’s okay. That’s okay. But like, to your point, let’s not negate that. That is a reality for a lot of us. And that is also, I think for a lot of us, unfortunately, our first sexual education beyond the mechanics of how sex works. In terms of like how how sexual desire works. And I don’t think that we just as you proved in this book, I think you made a really good case since we don’t discuss enough how that frames our outlook for the rest of our lives, not just in how we show up in a public way for our family, our friends, our, you know, our careers, but also in a very intimate ways, you know, that we make ourselves subjective. I’m also interested, though, you know, I mean, I was just talking about my environment that I grew up in. But, you know, you grew up in an environment that I’m actually ironically familiar with. Like maybe it’s not ironic, you know? So you grew up in Yonkers and I went to a college, a yonkers adjacent college. I went to Sarah Lawrence. So. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:27:20] You’re like right there. 

Maiysha Kai [00:27:21] Technically it is Yonkers, don’t let them fool you. It’s Yonkers. And I lived in Yonkers for two years. I you know, I have minimal knowledge, but I do know that, like, Yonkers is unsung, as you pointed out early on, unsung in terms of hip hop culture. Like it’s like, you know, people always want to talk about the Bronx is like, well, the Yonkers is Bronx adjacent. And a lot of that stuff actually happened there. And a lot of that is a discussion you’re having this book. And, you know, as we talk about language and ideas and stuff like that, like how did that a two part question, how did that a inform you as a young burgeoning mind and also give you the confidence to write? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:28:02] Well, to a point? What a lot of people don’t realize is that when you grow up in the hood and we’re talking about specifically Yonkers, but this is probably true of a lot of hoods in America, a lot of people, you are surrounded by writers. We just don’t call them that. We call them rappers. Right. And everybody got bars. Everybody’s spitting on the corner. It is always a superstar in everybody’s hood who are using their words to paint many vignettes of their world. So it just becomes normalized to see people using your words, to tell stories and you just and it become normalized. So it doesn’t feel like that big of a leap when you start to do this yourself, but just in a different form. I remember like when when my favorite versus, I’m biased, was of course the one with the Lox and Dipset, and I feel like there was a whole generation. I just fell in love with Kiss when he did his freestyle to the “Who Shot Ya?” beat and they was like, “Damn, he got bars” or whatever. But I’m just like, Yo, that’s kiss. This old, he’s been dope. He’s been that dude. 

Jadakiss [00:28:57] All praises, all burners, all razors. Hand down, the game is all Jadas. Anything drop I cop in all flavors. He’s a, you a, ya’ll neighbors. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:29:08] Well, he’s not the only one. There’s a whole bunch of Kiss, you know, folks, in Yonkers who got bars. There’s a whole bunch of lyricists in every hood. Right. So when you see this, we’re not calling them writers. We call them rappers. We’re not calling them people that are telling the stories. We’re not calling them journalists. We’re not calling them future novelists. Right. But this is what they are. So I just grew up not realizing it then, but is completely surrounded by people that know the power of words. 

Maiysha Kai [00:29:33] Hmm. We’ll be right back in a minute with more Writing Black.  

[00:29:40] Introducing Dear Culture with Panama Jackson on theGrio Black Podcast Network. When you’re friends for the shenanigans and stay for the edutainment as Panama debates culture war as Janet Jackson versus Michael. Blackfessions. Blackmendations and everything Black. Listen today on theGrio mobile app for all the Black culture conversations you don’t want to miss. Also available wherever great podcasts are heard. 

Maiysha Kai [00:30:07] Welcome back to Writing Black. The power of words. Now, see that is a thing that I don’t think we get enough credit for all the time. And I think that like Black people, but we use language in ways, we’re so we, I love us. We’re so creative. We’re so creative. But, you know, I guess building upon that, you know, in your, you know, in your trajectory in which you took that intrinsic knowledge and then have brought it into academic spaces, into so-called mainstream spaces, what is your or when you’re approaching those spaces, I mean, you know, we talk about, you know, obviously we all know about code switching, stuff like that. I personally have not known you’d be a person who code switches, but how do you how do you bring yourself to those environments? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:31:02] I can’t imagine code switching. That’s just too much labor. There’s just too much work, right, guys? Just it takes so much work to just exist as a Black woman in America. Add on to that I then have to call switch to make these people in front of me feel comfortable. It’s too much. Like I went from Yankees to an HBCU, you know what I mean? And then, like, I went to, like, this white school for my university, but my time I was older and got to those years I was already, you know, just know. So how do I show up at those environments? I show up as my authentic self. Like, I can’t even imagine doing a work to try to be two different people. I can’t even imagine trying to, you know, I can’t. I remember like my editor, she was editing one particular chapter and she was like, She was like, I know you sound a bit academic here and then you kind of sound a little bit. I can remember the word she was using, I guess let’s just say a little bit hood here. I was like, all this? This wasn’t the language she used. I can’t remember what she said, but it wasn’t like, you read the book, it’s not super like academic. 

Maiysha Kai [00:32:02] No, it’s very relatable, but it is also very rooted in this, at least something I recognize from my own studies, it is rooted in a very like socio psychological perspective in terms of like, let’s dig deeper. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:32:18] So but that’s Shanita. Like, that’s who I am. Like when I’m talking to my home girls and I’m talking to my friends,  we can go from talking about, you know, what we talk about, you know, have you seen such and such? Yeah, you know he locked up again, right? Like what? Girl, no, again? And then we can go from doing this crazy asking about his mom and is somehow talking about mass incarceration impact on our community and who’s left out of that conversation and then double back again to talk about well, damn when he coming home. That’s who I am. That’s who the people in my circle are. So that’s natural for me. So I just show up being exactly who I am. 

Maiysha Kai [00:32:51] So how do you hope that showing up that way builds on this lexicon, this canon, if you will, of. Black feminists thought that we are, you know, I hope still building. You know, for me, like I was in college in the nineties and that was like, you know, such a huge awakening period of awakening for me. And I see it happening again. Like, how do you hope to contribute to that? That cannon? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:33:20] I hope my dream would be I remember when I first read Dr. Joan Morgan like I read her before she became my friend. Like when I first met her, I was like fan girling. But like when I remember first reading her book and that was the first time and it’s no shade to any other, anyone else’s work, not to Bell, not to anyone’s work. But that was my first time feeling like I felt seen as the kids say. I got it right. She spoke to me in a way that no one, no other feminist has ever spoken to me. And she caused me to think deeper about my own life and in doing so pushed me to explore the world differently. And then I started creating my own, you know, my own lane. I don’t want to say my own lane. Like she literally built this whole hip hop feminism Black thing, right? But I started to explore in my own way and develop my own understanding and, and, and how and hopefully adding to the lexicon of thinkers. Right, just adding to it. So I’m hoping that there is going to be some Black woman, some Black girl that reads this and I speak to them in a way that no one else has, you know, before me. And then I will spark something in them so they can create their own world. It doesn’t even have to be a book, right? So they can create their own world, their own mark and whatever that looks like for them. 

Maiysha Kai [00:34:31] Listen, I’m not a girl. I ain’t been a girl in a minute, but it spoke to me. Like this spoke to me. I, you know, I, I had to pause several times. I was like, yo, you again, you don’t know my life. But yeah, this is but it’s, you know, it was very real. It was very tangible. It was very triggering in both good and bad ways. Like, obviously the idea of being seen is never a well, it shouldn’t be a bad one. I think some of us don’t want to be seen. We will be back in a minute with more Writing Black. 

[00:35:02] theGrio Black Podcast Network is here and it’s everything you’ve been waiting for news, talk, entertainment, sports and today’s issues all from the Black perspective. Ready for real talk and Black culture amplified. Be inspired. Listen to new and established voices now on theGrio Black Podcast Network. Listen today on theGrio Mobile App and tune in everywhere great podcast are heard. 

Maiysha Kai [00:35:31] All right. Let’s get back into it. Welcome back to Writing Black. But, you know, when you you know, you talk about being part of this lexicon, when you are delving in, diving deep, you know, looking for that empathy, those reinforcements, who do you read? Who do you go to? Who’s in who’s in your personal canon of people that you you read or even that you listen to? You know, anybody who works with words. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:35:59] Okay. Gosh, there’s so many. Lately, we probably had like the same phase, but lately, you know, Candice Benbow. 

Maiysha Kai [00:36:06] yeah. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:36:07] Of course Candice. Of course, Joan. Forever Kierna Mayo. I actually was just listening, I just finished, I usually read books, but I’ve been busy, so I’ve been listening to D. Watkins’ book Black Boy Joy. So I was like, oh, my gosh, it’s so there’s so many. Oh, my gosh. Kiese Laymon. 

Maiysha Kai [00:36:23] Yes. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:36:24] Kiese, my friend. You know, your homeboys, I’m at a place where my friends are like in my top five. That’s so dope. Like David Dennis, Jr. I’m like, c’mon, like, oh my gosh, it’s just so many people. And I’m like, these are like my real life friends. 

Maiysha Kai [00:36:40] Right. Well, why do you think I started this podcast? It’s so I could just chat with all of you. Yo, my people are dope. I think that’s exactly. And I think that’s exactly what we should be doing. Exactly what you’re doing. Hopefully what I’m doing. You know, again, the subtitle of your book is A Feminist Manifesto for the Well-Being of Black Women, even if we just zero in on, the people who are scared by feminist manifesto, just just focus in on the well-being of Black women and want that because it is important. And this idea of riding or dying, it’s like it only works if it’s mutual, right? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:37:19] Mm hmm. Then it wouldn’t be a ride to die? Right. If it’s mutual, then would you are in a healthy relationship, right? Because I see a lot of. You know what I mean? Because that’s the thing it’s about if you and whoever you significant other is, you are both giving 100 and you are given each other. And if they make you a ride or die because you expect and require reciprocity and you’re getting it and you know you’re getting it and you’re receiving it. So that wouldn’t be a ride or die. That’s a mutually beneficial, healthy relationship where flowing back and forth. 

Maiysha Kai [00:37:48] You’re just asking us to recognize that. Well, I hope everybody gets into this. You know, this is it’s exciting to me. A. It’s exciting to me because my friends but also it’s exciting to me from the standpoint I think these are conversations that no matter how many of our amazing Black female minds explore this topic, I think it’s always relevant and I think it’s always unique, and I think it’s always affirming and empathetic. So I appreciate you writing this, Shanita, and I also appreciate you coming on Writing Black. This is so exciting to me. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:38:21] Thank you. This was really, really fun. You might have spoiled me. This is like my book launch season, so I haven’t done many interviews, but this is like, if this is the bars than I’m good. 

Maiysha Kai [00:38:31] Just wanted to have a conversation with my homegirl about some things. So that’s what we do here. And I really appreciate it. I appreciate you coming on. Again, I appreciate you writing this book. I think it does add to our lexicon. I think, you know, we had our version of books that we were reading in the late nineties, early aughts. And I love that there’s a whole new generation who is getting to benefit from what we learned then, right? I haven’t written that book, but you have. Part of what makes Black writing so powerful is the empathy. And again, I got that from the very first page of this. I appreciate you so much. Listen, I would love to know also, though, what you’re doing next. Are you working on anything new? Was there anything else that we should expect? 

Shanita Hubbard [00:39:22] Did my agent send you here? 

Maiysha Kai [00:39:25] This is a huge undertaking. That’s a major undertaking. I just you know, I have to ask cause I me,. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:39:33] You will be one of the first person to know. 

Maiysha Kai [00:39:39] Thank you so much. Shanita Hubbard. Ride or Die. Get the is. Get this lovely book. 

Shanita Hubbard [00:39:45] Thank you. 

Maiysha Kai [00:39:47] We will be back in a minute with more Writing Black. 

[00:39:53] Introducing Dear Culture with Panama Jackson on theGrio Black Podcast Network. Bring your friends for the shenanigans and stay for the edutainment. As Panama Debates Culture War as Janet Jackson versus Michael. Blackfessions, Blackmendations and everything Black. Listen today on theGrio mobile app for all the Black culture conversations you don’t want to miss. Also available wherever great podcasts are heard. 

Maiysha Kai [00:40:21] All right. Let’s get back into it. Welcome back to Writing Black. So this is my favorite part of all of the episodes me around. I love these conversations, but I also love encouraging our listeners to dig into more amazing thoughts and ideas and language. And, you know, Shanita’s, you know, book RiDe or Die: A Feminist Manifesto for the Well-Being of Black Women, I do think is going to be a new touchstone for a new generation, not too unlike my generation. But that said, there’s other voices in this space that I think coexist beautifully and dovetail with, like what she’s saying and the points that she’s making. One of which is Mikki Kendall, who did Hood Feminism, I want to say this came out is this 2020? This might be 2020. You know, this highly acclaimed book, Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot. And when we talk about feminism, you know, whether first or second or even to a certain extent third wave, we are often having this conversation we talk about 53%. We’re having this conversation that Black women have not only always been involved in feminism, but have in many ways been at the forefront of it. And feminism is not a dirty word job. Don’t be scared. Don’t be scared. Because I promise you, when Black women win, all of us win. 

Maiysha Kai [00:41:49] That’s a point that’s also made by one of my favorite, favorite, favorite thinkers in the universe, Brittney Cooper, Eloquent Rage. This book fascinates me because it came out, I want to say, in 2017, 2018, somewhere around there, and became a bestseller in 2020 amid a moment of peaked Black interest. But I’m so glad that so many people got to read this book because it’s so important. It’s it’s also fun and it’s so pert, like Shani, this book, it’s so personal and so relatable in so many ways. So this is Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, and I am going to drive that point home. Black feminist is not a dirty phrase. It’s not a dirty word. It’s not a bad thing to be. It just means that we love ourselves enough to love all the rest of you. So check them out and we will see you on the next episode of Writing Black. Thanks so much for joining us for this week’s episode of Writing Black. As always, you can find us on theGrio app or wherever you find your podcasts. 

[00:43:00] theGrio Black Podcast Network is here, and it’s everything you’ve been waiting for. News, talk, entertainment, sports and today’s issues all from the Black perspective. Ready for real talk and Black culture amplified. Be inspired. Listen to new and established voices now on theGrio Black Podcast Network. Listen today on theGrio Mobile App and tune in everywhere great podcast are heard. 

[00:43:32] Introducing Dear Culture with Panama Jackson on theGrio Black Podcast Network. Bring your friends for the shenanigans and stay for the edutainment. As Panama Debates Culture Wars. Janet Jackson versus Michael. Blackfessions. Blackmendations and everything Black. Listen today on theGrio mobile app for all the Black culture conversations you don’t want to miss. Also available wherever great podcasts are heard.