Lady Gaga urges 2020 graduates to stand up against ‘systemic oppression’ in heartfelt speech

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga delivered a heartfelt speech to high school graduates on Sunday (June 7, 2020), as she urged them to do their bit to fight systemic racism in America.

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 and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests.

“My speech at that time reflected and referenced the shared experience of the Covid-19 global pandemic that has devastated the world this year and how important it is to be a force of kindness in the world as you take the next step forward in your promising lives,” she said. “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.”

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”, Gaga continued: “Sometimes being kind is hard. 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.”

Concluding her speech, Gaga said: “Congratulations to the class of 2020. I can’t wait to see your forest.”

Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lizzo, and BTS were among the other stars who took part in the YouTube Originals special.