Pop superstar Lady Gaga used her virtual high school commencement speech to reflect on the protests sweeping the nation following the death of George Floyd, and said the “racist seeds” of America became “trees that grew prejudice branches and oppressive leaves and mangled roots that buried and entrenched themselves deep within the soil.”
In her message for YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” event, Gaga admitted she had to rewrite her speech in the wake of violent nationwide protests in response to George Floyd’s death in police custody.
“You are watching what is a pivotal moment in this country’s evolution,” she declared. “You are 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.”
The Grammy-winner went on to use nature in her analogy of alleged deep-rooted racism in modern America that young people have the power to change:
I think about 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 push back when we try to look clearly at how it really works. This forest is where we live, it’s who we are. It’s the moral and value system that we as a society have upheld and emboldened for centuries. I make this analogue between racism and nature in this country because it’s as pervasive and real as nature. It is some part of everything the light touches.
All of us are being invited to challenge that system and think about how to affect real change. I believe in my heart that 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.
Lady Gaga, who recently released her new album Chromatica, was one of a group of celebrities, including Barack and Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and BTS, who gave virtual commencement speeches at YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” graduation ceremony on Sunday. The event was organized for the millions of people unable to experience an in-person commencement ceremony because of the Chinese coronavirus.