Beyoncé offered some words of wisdom during a powerful commencement speech for graduating students during YouTube Originals’ Dear Class of 2020 virtual ceremony on Sunday.
Her words, especially at a time when the world is fighting a pandemic and recurring racism that once again was highlighted with George Floyd’s killing, is especially powerful and much-needed.
The singer started her speech by congratulating the graduating students who find themselves “in the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic and worldwide expression 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 world know that Black Lives Matter,” she shared.
“You are achieving things your parents and grandparents never could imagine for themselves. You are the answer to a generation of prayers,” she applauded.
She stressed that graduates need to build their own stage and “make the world see [them”].
She went on to address the recent killings of unarmed Black men and women by police, including Floyd, which 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,” she said.
Beyonce brought up her own struggles getting started in the music industry to drive home the point, “To all those who feel different, if you’re a 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.”
The singer didn’t shy away from calling out the sexism in the entertainment business. “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 management company, to direct my films and produce my tools. 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, outsiders, underdogs, people that were overlooked and waiting to be seen many of the best creatives in business.”
“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 so the young kings lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity lead with heart.”
“Surrender to the cards you are dealt. It’s from that surrender that you get your power. Losing can be the best motivator to get your bigger wins, so don’t ever compare yourself to anyone else. There will be wins and losses, there will be tears and laughter. You’ll feel the shades of life deeply.
Now with success comes challenges. With your wins, you may start to notice people spending a lot of energy trying to tear you down. Try not to take it personally. Unfortunately, it’s something that comes along with success. Whenever you feel like you’re not in control, or the world is against you, let that vulnerability motivate you into greatness. That’s how I found my true self. I remain a work in progress, and that’s the beauty of growth.
I’ve been happiest when I let go and allow life to show me the next move. When you bet on yourself, you’re making an investment into your own future. When you choose to spend your valuable time thinking, speaking typing negative thoughts, you’re investing in something that will give you absolutely no return on your investment. Class of 2020, every thought in your mind is powerful, every word you speak is powerful, every action you take has consequences for yourself and your community.
Look what you’ve been able to do in the last 14 days. We’ve seen the power of collective. We’ve seen what happens when we join for the same cause. Please, continue to be the voice for the voiceless. Never forget we can disagree in a way that is productive to arrive at decisions that foster real change. And if you make a mistake, that’s OK, too.
But we all have a responsibility to hold ourselves accountable and change. Whatever the world looks like in 10 years, in 20 years, part of that is up to you. I urge you to let this current moment push you to improve yourself in all areas of your life: at work, at home, activism, spirituality. Wherever you can find hope, follow it. And remember you are never alone. Lean on that strength of togetherness. Keep the collective strong, stay focused.”
Beyoncé was part of the star-studded lineup for YouTube’s virtual commencement Dear Class of 2020 headlined by former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.