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Artist/Activist Shungudzo’s New Video “To Be Me” Is A Powerful Reclamation Of Her Body And Her Black

PAPER has premiered the gripping new song and music video for “To be me” (Svikiro Records/ Young Forever/BMG) by Zimbabwean-American artist/activist Shungudzo. In the grainy, hand-held video shot by G.Smith and directed, edited and produced by G.Smith and Shungudzo, Shun walks a dark alley, where she is flanked and then pawed by two men, singing:

I wanna walk

Through an alley at night

Without making a knife with a key

Like oh my god

It’s safe

To be me

Watch “To be me” via PAPER HERE:

While personal and semi-autobiographical for Shungudzo, the message of “To be me” is universal: the need - and right - to feel safe in one’s own body. In another scene, Shun sings into a doorbell surveillance camera:

Black in America

Black and shoppin’

Black on a jog

In a locked apartment

Black in car

On a sidewalk dancin’

They did nothin’ wrong

Why are they in heaven?

Shungudzo states, “‘To be me’ is an anthem of empowerment for those who’ve been victims of sexual or racial violence, as well as those who haven’t, but live in fear of it. I hope it makes them feel less alone, never to blame, and more comfortable sharing their stories. I also hope that it encourages those who have any kind of power or privilege over others — be it via race, size, sobriety, social or financial status — to think twice about how their actions and words can intimidate, or worse, harm innocent people.”

Shungudzo vowed from an early age to compose a poem every day of her life. Using words and music as a vehicle for change, her songs and poems are made to impact and interrupt societal norms. In a recent interview with PRI’s The World, she explains, "What I do feel is an urgency and a desire to use my words, to say things that make some sort of difference, even if it's a small one." In addition to writing and producing her own songs, Shungudzo has written for Little Mix, Chiiild, and Jessie Ware. Shungudzo will continue to release new music in 2021. Stay tuned for more.

The track follows on the heels of “It's a good day (to fight the system).”

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