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    ‘We have to force people to understand’: Alicia Keys reveals her goal is to ’empower black America’ as she appears in striking cover shoot for Glamour UK

    Alicia Keys has spoken out about systemic racism and says she uses her platform to try and ’empower black America’.

    The singer, 39, said she is stunned by ‘how many years of systemic racism’ still have to be fought against and unravelled in America as she appeared in a striking cover shoot for the autumn/winter print issue of Glamour UK.

    Speaking candidly about furthering racial equality, the musician admitted she feels like people have to be ‘literally forced’ to rethink ‘who’s in charge and who we’re creating opportunities for’.

    Racism: Alicia Keys has revealed she is stunned by ‘how many years of systemic racism’ still have to be fought against and unravelled in America

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    She has recently launched a $1billion endowment fund with NFL to help support Black American businesses and communities affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Discussing her venture, she explained: ‘As an artist, I’m always thinking about how I can use my platform to further racial equality. Our goal is to empower black America. 

    ‘I can’t believe how many years of systemic racism we have to unravel, and come to terms with, and fight against, and redesign, and recreate. 

    ‘I feel like we have to literally force people to understand and to rethink how things are happening, how they’re running, who’s in charge, who we’re creating opportunities for. 

    ‘And at this point, I just think that it’s so deeply woven into the fabric. It’s not OK.’

    Empowering: The singer, 39, told Glamour UK that she feels that people have to be 'literally forced' to rethink 'who's in charge and who we're creating opportunities for'

    Empowering: The singer, 39, told Glamour UK that she feels that people have to be ‘literally forced’ to rethink ‘who’s in charge and who we’re creating opportunities for’

    The Girl on Fire hitmaker also told the magazine that this year has made her ‘unafraid of taking risks’, adding that she is ready to ‘re-mould’ the world as she believes ‘we need it’. 

    The talented pianist went on to open up about how she expresses her African ancestry through her locks after she discovered ‘the power of hair’.

    Alicia said that she has ‘always been proud of wearing braids’ as she feels that there is ‘something so beautiful about the Blackness of it’.

    She added: ‘Hair is such a gorgeous expression of our individuality and deserves to be respected. I’ve always been proud of wearing braids and I love learning about the power of hair. 

    ‘I’ve always felt royal when I wear braids. There’s something so beautiful about the Blackness of it, about my African ancestry that I just feel truly connected to.’

    She continued to reflect back on her experience growing up near the ‘pornography capital’ in New York and how it shaped who she has become. 

    The fashion icon said much of her sensational style and beauty sense comes from ‘being so exposed to the streets’ at a young age, adding that she had to ‘protect herself in many ways’.

    She revealed that she had to be ‘conscious’ of her ‘toughness’ when walking through areas where there were ‘hookers and drug dealers’, leading her to ‘pare down’ what she wore.

    Alicia explained: ‘A lot of my fashion and beauty sense comes from being so exposed to the streets at a young age. 

    ‘And having to really protect myself in so many ways that I always underplayed everything… 42nd street was the pornography capital of New York, so the type of people that you would run into on the street were anywhere between hookers, h**s, pimps and drug dealers. 

    Family: Alicia shares two sons, Genesis, five, and Egypt, 10, with her husband of 10 years, record producer Swizz Beatz (pictured, Alicia, Swizz and Egypt in November 2013)

    Family: Alicia shares two sons, Genesis, five, and Egypt, 10, with her husband of 10 years, record producer Swizz Beatz (pictured, Alicia, Swizz and Egypt in November 2013)

    ‘That was where all the X-rated theatres were and the culture there was very grimy. 

    ‘Walking by these places and knowing that I had to interface with these people, I always had to be conscious about my toughness, about my boundaries and my clothes, so I was always very pared down in what I wore.’

    The star has recently taken on an exciting new venture after launching her very own skincare range with E.l.f Beauty, called Keys Soulcare.

    She also wowed her fans after taking to the stage in an impressive head-covering golden face mask for the virtual MTV European Music Awards (EMAs). 

    Alicia shares two sons, five-year-old Genesis and Egypt, 10, with her husband of ten years, record producer and rapper Swizz Beatz.

    Read the full interview in the GLAMOUR UK Autumn/Winter 20/21 print issue now.

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