British singer Alexandra Burke shot to fame in the U.K. after winning Britain’s “The X Factor” back in 2008.
On Friday, the 31-year-old singer took to Instagram to share video in which she candidly details the racism she’s been subjected to within the British music industry.
Her experiences with racism, she says, began when she was competing on “The X Factor” at age 16, when an unnamed person on the show told her to give him a call “in a couple of months, and I’ll sign you.” That same person later told her she wouldn’t be signed, because “I already have one black artist, I don’t need another.”
After she won the TV singing contest, things did not get better. “I got told when I first won ‘The X Factor’, ‘because you’re black you’re going to have to work 10 times harder than a white artist because of the colour of your skin. You can’t have braids, you can’t have an afro, you can’t have anything that basically is my identity. You have to have hair that appeals to white people so they understand you better.’”
She also says she was instructed to bleach her skin, something she describes as “absurd… that was something I refused to do”.
According to Burke, she’s “wanted to do this video for a long time, but I’ve been a bit scared to do it.”
She wrote in the caption: “I felt it was time to speak up… This is a scary moment for me. I didn’t always want to speak up.. but it is the right thing to do. So, here’s my truth, the positive and the emotional.”
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I felt it was time to speak up… This is a scary moment for me. I didn’t always want to speak up.. but it is the right thing to do. So, here’s my truth, the positive and the emotional. 🤍 Side note: When I talk about ‘not seeing colour’ I’m not referring to the idea of being blind to skin colour, I’m talking about the notion within the music industry and institutionally that whiter is better. Why does an industry that should be focused on vocal ability spend so much time dictating an artists worth on their colour?