Lady Gaga is giving us a “million reasons” to love her.
In the last few months, many high school and college students have had to adjust their graduation plans due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, YouTube recently said today’s “Dear Class of 2020” virtual graduation ceremony is meant to “centre around the timely themes of hope, resilience and camaraderie, especially given the recent social justice movement.”
With the “Rain On Me” singer’s inspiring commencement speech, it’s clear she brought those themes to the center stage.
On Sunday, the 34-year-old star delivered a moving and inspiring commencement speech during YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” virtual ceremony. “Two weeks ago, I recorded a very different commencement speech to help celebrate the wonderful accomplishment that is your graduation,” Lady Gaga began her speech. “My speech at the time reflected … the COVID-19 global pandemic that has devastated the world this year and how important it is to be a force of kindness in this world as you take the next step forward in your promising lives.”
The 34-year-old singer pointed out that her speech was recorded before the nationwide protests that have occurred in response to the killing of George Floyd. “[And] the subsequent activist movement protesting police brutality and systemic racism in this country,” she added. “While my original speech may not be directly relevant to what this country needs most right now, I wish to tell you today that although there is much to be sad about, there is also much to be celebrated.”
“You are watching what is a pivotal moment in this country’s evolution,” she added. “You’re watching society change in a deeply important way. This change will be slow and we will have to be patient. But change will happen and it will be for the better.”
Lady Gaga shared that in re-writing her speech, she asked herself an important question: “How [do] I view racism in America as it relates to graduation?”
“When I look past the rage that I feel about this systemic oppression, and physical and emotional violence that has tortured the Black community endlessly, my mind turned to nature,” the Chromatica singer expressed. “When I think about racism in America, I imagine a broad forest filled densely with tall trees; trees as old as this country itself. Trees that were planted with racist seeds. Trees that grew prejudice 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 pushes back when we tried to look clearly at how it really works. This forest is where we live.”
The pop star explained that she made the analogy between racism and nature in this country because “it’s as pervasive and as real as nature.” However, in this moment, she said, “all of us are being invited to challenge that system and think about how to affect real change. 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.”
She added, “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 […] I believe you beautiful seeds have been presented with a wonderful gift. The opportunity to reflect in this powerful moment… on your morals, your principles and your values and how they will guide you through life as it presents itself and as you wonder where it will take you. Your morals, principles and values—I strongly believe now must be sincere and authentic to you. Your principles must come from your heart. Your values must come from your brain. Your morals must be derived from the whole you that you contribute lovingly to humanity.”
The singer went on to encourage the graduating class of 2020 to strive for kindness even when it presents as a difficult task.
“Sometimes being kind is hard,” she said. “I’m sure you can think of a few unkind classmates, friends, family members, strangers, people, teachers from your school or even times that you’ve acted unkindly […] So since being kind can mean doing a hard thing, sometimes even in the absence of kindness, people can still do the hard thing and be kind. I encourage you to be kind.”
“I can’t wait to see your forest,” Lady Gaga said as she concluded her speech.