"Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin to such extent that you bleach? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose? And the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself?"
For the first 30 seconds of VV Brown's new single off of Glitch, "Sacrifice," a voiceover of Malcolm X addressing an audience full of black people plays as a closeup of her (temporarily) light skin and blue eyes faces down the camera.
Without even seeing the entire audience from X's iconic 1962 speech, it's likely true that all of the women there had to straighten their natural hair to fit in with a world that thought of them as less than, and most of the men had at one time or another measured their speech to appear more docile in a public place as not to appear dangerous.
I know most of them had wondered at one time or another if being white would just be easier, because at one time, I (and many other black people) have thought the same thing.
By donning makeup to appear as a white woman in "Sacrifice," VV Brown addresses this unnerving-yet-constant need minorities feel to fit in a predominately white place -- like America or Brown's native England.
"It shows in different forms -- from extremes of self-hate, where all things black are rejected, to coping strategies such as not wearing braids to a job interview in fear of being deemed 'too ethnic,'" Brown reflects in an essay for The Guardian released the same day as her video.
We live in a world where skin-whitening cream companies can make profits of $20 million a year and television conglomerates like Dr. Oz can push articles about lightening one's skin without mentioning the implications of such an act.
Still, in a world that synonymizes white skin with elegance and civility, temporarily turning your skin that color in a music video will almost certainly be met with criticism. Conveying her point about these symptoms of racial unrest in this controversial way is not lost on Brown.
"I was nervous to do something this political when I decided to shoot and direct this video," Brown told MTV News. "Race often has a way of ruffling people's feathers, but it was a statement that was bigger than any promo or feeling of nervousness.
"I had to do it because racism and these feelings exist, and I want to contribute something to my generation that I hope will make some kind of difference, even if it's small. As a black woman I was compelled to speak out without compromise."
To read all of VV Brown's thoughts on making "Sacrifice," go to The Guardian.