Beyonce has extended support to the Black Lives Matter movement in the Dear Class of 2020 YouTube graduation speech. In that speech, she has spoken against racism and talked about the ‘sexist’ music industry that she was is a part of.
In her speech, she started off by congratulating the graduates for continuing to struggle and graduate amidst the crisis that the world is going through.
“Congratulations to the class of 2020, you have arrived here in the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic and worldwide expression of outrage at the senseless killing of yet another unarmed Black human being. And you still made it, we’re so proud of you.”
“Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the worlds know that Black lives matter. The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others have left us all broken. It has left the entire country searching for answers. We’ve seen that our collective hearts, when put to positive action, could start the wheels of change.”
Beyonce further has spoken about the recent protests occurring in the U.S. and has been a huge inspiration for the Black community. She made a powerful statement on sexism, encouraged students to continue to speak up against racial prejudices and also to make the movement a success all over the world.
Beyonce, who featured in the all-day online celebration which addressed the graduating students who couldn’t have a one-on-one commencement ceremony due to the pandemic, was joined by other celebrities too. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, popular K-pop band BTS and Lady Gaga. There were musical performances by Chloe x Halle, Lizzo and the New York Philharmonic and Katy Perry.
Beyonce, in her heartfelt speech, also talked about the struggles of starting out by oneself and the risks of doing so.
She encouraged students to strive towards their goals even if faced with unprecedented circumstances. “Some of you might be the first in your family to graduate from college. Maybe you did not follow the path that was expected from you and you probably questioned everything about your decision — but know that stepping out is the best thing you can do for self-discovery. I know how hard it is to step out and bet on yourself,” she said.
She talked about how there was prevalent sexism in the music industry when she initially started out. She also talked about her struggles and how she had to pave her own path in the 10-minute long video.
“The entertainment business is still very sexist. It’s still very male-dominated and as a woman, I did not see enough female role models given the opportunity to what I knew I had to do — to run my label, and management company, to direct my films and produce my tours that meant ownership, owning my masters, owning my art, owning my future and writing my own story.”
Beyonce also mentioned that she was “terrified” to start her own company in the male-dominated industry as she was not confident as to how she would own her space in such an industry.
“Not enough Black women had a seat at the table. So I had to go and chop down that wood and build my own table. Then I had to invite the best there was to have a seat. That meant hiring women, men outsiders, underdogs, people that were overlook and waiting to be seen.”
According to Beyonce, even belonging to a race that has been looked down upon for far too long, circumstances became even more difficult than they could have been.
“Many of the best creatives and business people, who although supremely qualified and talented, were turned down over and over as executives at major corporations because they were female or because of racial disparity. And I’ve been very proud to provide them with a place at my table. One of the main purposes of my art for many years has been dedicated to showing the beauty of Black people to the world, our history, our profundity and the value of Black lives. I’ve tried my best to pull down the veil of appeasement to those who may feel uncomfortable with our excellence.” said Beyonce.
Beyonce concluded her speech by saying that “Respect is everything” and asked youngsters to not let “negativity of people” take a toll on their self-worth and self-confidence.