Alexandra Burke speaks out about racism, the music industry told her ‘to look whiter’

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X Factor winner Alexandra Burke said she was told to bleach her skin and change her hair “to look whiter” as she spoke about her experiences of racism in the music industry.

The singer who won the TV talent show in 2008, posted a video on Instagram.

She said she was told to avoid wearing braids or having an afro hairstyle.

During the 15-minute clip, she recalled: “When I first won the X Factor, I was 19.

“I got told because you’re black you are going to have to work 10 times harder than a white artist because of the colour of your skin.

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“You can’t have braids, you can’t have an afro, you can’t have anything that is basically my identity.

“You have to have hair, for example, that appeals to white people so people can understand you better.”

She added: “I mean, I was only 19 years old. There’s only so much you can understand at 19 and your life has completely changed overnight.

“And that was quite hard to digest.”

The singer said she was also advised to use skin lightening products but refused to do so.

“I got told to bleach my skin and that was something I refused to do,” she said.

“Because that is just absurd to me that somebody could even remotely say to someone: ‘Bleach your skin so that you can look whiter.’

“Still to this moment it breaks my heart that I was told that.”

Burke then turned emotional as she discussed other “heartbreaking” experiences.

Describing how someone told her “you can’t release this kind of music, because white people don’t understand that”, she said: “I am so upset with myself that I allowed that.”

The X Factor Live Tour – London
Burke on the X Factor live tour after winning the show in 2008 (PA)

It comes after fellow X Factor contestant Misha B spoke out about the show pushing an “angry black girl narrative” on her.

Burke said it “inspired” her to share similar experiences.

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  • Show Comments
    1. the music industry is an industry and its function is to make money
      it is a capitalist institution
      like all capitalist institutions it must favour money over life
      see administration of the current pandemic
      music industry doesn’t care about music
      music industry doesn’t care about art
      music industry doesn’t care about people
      music industry doesn’t care about colour
      capital is colour blind
      capital is emotionally driven not rationally driven
      capital does not invest in renewable energy because:
      if it’s good for people it must be bad for capital
      this is how capital thinks
      it’s not so much thinking as an unconsciously determined impulse rationale
      think in evolutionary terms of the reptile brain
      think not of the cunning of the elders of Zion
      think of the greed, ignorance, selfishness, stupidity
      and very small penises of
      Donald Trump, Bolsonaro, Putin
      and of the ones the antisemites left out:
      Jacob Rees Mogg and Doris Johnson

    2. actually I now recall hearing how the music industry ghosted Nona Simone for her endorsement of black power
      not sure if this was racist or just a general capitalist principle that any objection to the status quo is a threat to the interests of capital

      freedom of action, protest, democratic representation, organisation of labour, provision of support infrastructure to workers:

      profit, security of permissive regime, predictability of returns, economies of production

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