Singer Alexandra Burke has shared her experiences of racism in the music industry, recounting that she was told to bleach her skin to "look whiter" after winning the X Factor as a teenager.

In a video posted to Instagram, Burke said: "When I first won The X Factor [aged] 19, I got told, right, 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.

"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, for example, that appeals to white people so people can understand you better.

"I mean, I was only 19-years-old. There's only so much you can understand at 19 when your life has completely changed overnight. And that was quite hard to digest."  

"I got told to bleach my skin," Burke continued. "And that was something I refused to do because it just is absurd to me that somebody could even remotely say to someone, 'Bleach your skin so that you could look whiter'. Still to this moment it breaks my heart that I was told that."

Burke said she was also told: "You can't release this kind of music, because white people don't understand that."

"I am so upset with myself that I allowed that," she added.

Another example given by Burke was being told: "Because you're a black girl, you won't make it that far in the industry... If you were white, you would be bigger than what you are now, you could sell more records, you'd be a Brit Award-winner."

The 31-year-old said she was "too scared" to share her experiences earlier in her career and was inspired to share them now because of the Black Lives Matter movement and claims made by fellow X Factor singer Misha B.

Misha B claimed last weekend that the series had "created this narrative of me being over-confident because I'm black" and had a "corrupted agenda" to depict her as a bully during her time on the show.

An X Factor spokesperson said: "We are currently looking into this matter and are reaching out to Misha to discuss the important issues she has raised. The welfare of contestants is our priority and we are committed to diversity and equality."  

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