Shungudzo's Music Calls Out Race Fetishization
“You only use me until you’re finished.”
The newest release by Shungudzo, a Zimbabwean-American artist and activist, is very short but two minutes are enough for the volcano of emotions to erupt. Anger, frustration, fury, passion and exhaustion literally pour out of “White Parents,” the fourth instalment from her upcoming album I’m not a mother but I have children, out June 18th.
The track depicts the problem of race fetishization in an earth-shattering and powerful way. It is dedicated to all people of color, who have been described as “exotic” and treated like a sexual experience to tick. It is also aimed at the tick boxers and race fetishizers. Not only are they called out but also ridiculed and humiliated with lines like, “You wanna feed me because I’m famished.”
Shungudzo speaks from a personal experience and recalls her lovers from the past. “They were okay with giving me the girlfriend experience, but who also eventually made it very clear that, come marriage time, I would not be the one due to differences in race, nationality, religion or economic standing.”
Musically, the track is a blend of different genres. The sound of rock guitar opens “White Parents” and is joined by Shungudzo’s powerful vocal which turns into a piercing cry. In the bridge, however, the artist, singing a cappella, demonstrates the delicacy of her voice and the diversity of her talent.
No wonder because Shungudzo is a real Renaissance woman. A poet, songwriter, vocalist, dancer, gymnast, activist, and Stanford ex-student. Not only did she write songs for Little Mix, Chiiild, and Jessie Ware but also, she was the first female artistic gymnast of colour to compete on the Zimbabwean National Team. 2021 desperately needs artists and stars like her.
The release of “White Parents” is accompanied by a visual in which Shungudzo twists and subverts the highly racist and disrespectful historical practice of “black face.” Surrounded by white fabrics and attired in white clothing, she paints her face and body white which only intensifies the message, screamed out in the pre-chorus, “you would never take me home to your White Parents.”
The single “White Parents” is available on streaming services.
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