Beyoncé delivered a batch of powerful messages on Saturday (June 7) as a part of YouTube Originals’ “Dear Class of 2020” virtual commencement ceremony. She recognized the global collective of people who have protested in the name of Black Lives Matter and made a confounding statement about sexism in the music industry.
The “Formation” singer kicked off the moment with congratulations to the observing high school seniors who all retain status as active participants of history as they gather for the pandemic driven virtual commencement.
“Congratulations to the class of 2020, you have arrived here 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, we’re so proud of you,” she said.
She went on to address the happenings of protests all over the world in the name of Black Lives Matter, acknowledging the emotional global unrest and desire for justice and reform by the Black populace.
“Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the worlds 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,” Beyoncé expressed.
She spoke on her understanding of the entertainment business and shared she “did not see enough female role models” in her early days and was forced to build her industry foundation, from scratch. She emphasized the need to bring Black women in positions of authority in the music industry, leading the comment by slating the sector as being “very sexist.”
“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 what I knew I had to do — to run my label, and management 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 overlook and waiting to be seen.”
She continued, highlighting some of the racially inspired discriminatory practices of music corporations.
“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.”
Beyoncé virtually accompanied Former First Lady Michelle Obama and Former President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, and more for YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020.”