Lady Gaga urged high school graduates to help fight systemic racism in America as she delivered a heartfelt speech on Sunday.
The 34-year-old singer was just one of the famous names taking part in YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 graduation special, and told viewers that while she had recorded her initial speech two weeks ago, she was inspired to re-record her message following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers on 25 May and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests.
When forcing herself to look past “the rage that I feel about this systemic oppression”, Gaga came up with the analogy of comparing racism in the U.S. to a “broad forest filled densely with tall trees”.
“Trees as old as this country itself,” she explained. “Trees that were planted with racist seeds. Trees that grew prejudiced branches and oppressive leaves and mangled roots that buried and entrenched themselves deep within the soil, forming a web so well-developed and so entangled that it pushes back when we try to look clearly at how it really works. This forest is where we live.”
“But in this moment, all of us are being invited to challenge that system and think about how to affect real change,” she continued. “I believe in my heart that the people who are going to make this change happen are listening to me speak right now. I know this is true because it’s you who are the seeds of the future. You are the seeds that will grow into a new and different forest that is far more beautiful and loving than the one we live in today.”
Urging the graduates to try and “be kind all the time”, even when it feels hard, and concluded her speech by saying, “Congratulations to the class of 2020. I can’t wait to see your forest.”
Stars including Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lizzo, and BTS also took part in the YouTube Originals special.