08th Jun 2020
Your queerness is beautiful, your blackness is beautiful. Your compassion, your understanding, your fight for people who may be different from you, is beautiful…
The Queen has spoken. In a powerful commencement speech for YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 series, Beyoncé talked about Black Lives Matter, the global crisis and sexism within the entertainment industry.
The virtual graduation ceremony, which streamed on YouTube yesterday, kicked off with a flute performance by Lizzo and also featured appearances from Barack and Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, Yara Shahidi, Billy Porter, Kerry Washington, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
Beyoncé’s Class of 2020 address
“Thank you President Obama and Mrs. Obama for including me in this very special day. And congratulations to the Class of 2020. You have arrived 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. Thank you. We’re so proud of you, for using your collective voice and letting the world 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. Real change has started with you. This new generation of high school and college graduates who we celebrate today.
I did not get to experience college like some of you, or the campus parties that left you the next day struggling in class, although that could’ve been fun. But my parents did teach me the value of education, how to be authentic in my actions, and how to celebrate individuality, and the importance of investing in myself.
Dear graduates, please remember to take a little bit of time to give thanks to your family members, and the community who has been such a big support system for you. You are achieving things your parents and grandparents never could imagine for themselves. You are the answer to a generation of prayers.
Now some of you might be the first in your family to graduate from college. Maybe you did not follow the path that was expected of 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. There was a pivotal turning point in my life when I chose to build my own company many years ago. I had to trust that I was ready, and that my parents and mentors provided me with the tools I needed to be successful. But that was terrifying.
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 do what I knew I had to do. To run my label and manage my 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. 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 overlooked and waiting to be seen.
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.
To the young women, our future leaders, know that you’re about to make the world turn. I see you. You are everything the world needs. Make those power moves. Be excellent. And to the young kings, lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity. Lead with heart. There’s so many different ways to be brilliant.
I believe you and every human being is born with a masterful gift. Don’t let the world make you feel that you have to look a certain way to be brilliant. And no you don’t have to speak a certain way to be brilliant. But you do have to spread your gift around the planet in a way that is authentically you.
To all those who feel different. If you’re part of a group that’s called ‘other,’ a group that does not get the chance to be center stage, build your own stage and make them see you. Your queerness is beautiful, your blackness is beautiful. Your compassion, your understanding, your fight for people who may be different from you, is beautiful.
I hope you continue to go into the world and show them that you will never stop being yourself. That it’s your time now, make them see you.”
Read more: WATCH: Meghan Markle delivers heartfelt speech on the killing of George Floyd
Read more: WATCH: Imelda May recites her poem ‘You Don’t Get To Be Racist And Irish’
Read more: Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ documentary is the light we need right now
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