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An Indian politician says Britain owes reparations to its colonies, and his message is going viral.

While we can't change history, it's important that we acknowledge the facts of our colonialist pasts.

An Indian politician says Britain owes reparations to its colonies, and his message is going viral.

In the United States, independence from Britain is a distant memory that we celebrate with burgers and a beer. But in India, the wounds of colonialism are more recent — and more raw.

By the early 20th century, the United Kingdom ruled over one-fourth of the world. Most of those countries didn't gain independence until after World War II, a detail that tends to be overlooked in U.S. history books. And if you think European colonists in America had good reason to rebel against British rule, India definitely did.

Think of India like a big ol' apartment building. The Indian people have been living there for a while — centuries, even — before a new, oppressive, absentee landlord (*cough* Britain *cough*) came along and continually upped the rent while refusing to fix the toilet. Or the mouse problem. And by "toilet" and "mouse problems," I mean introduced violence, slavery/indentured servitude, and the destruction and theft of language and culture, all for profit.


And on top of that, the same terrible landlord didn't even give your security deposit back. I think you'd have a right to be upset. And that's sort of — in a very general, metaphorical way — how some Indians feel about the era of British colonialism.

GIF from the greatest speech ever written in the history of American cinema ("Independence Day")

There are people like Shashi Tharoor who believe that Britain should repay India and other former colonies for centuries of oppression.

Tharoor is an author, politician, and member of the Indian parliament who boasts such an impressive resume that I can hardly even begin to summarize it here. With more than 3 million followers on Twitter, he's also a bit of an academic celebrity.

In May 2015, Tharoor gave a speech that has reached millions of people — proving that his message has an audience.

The speech, which went viral on YouTube and Facebook, took place during a debate on reparations, just one in an ongoing series hosted by the Oxford Union, a prestigious society at the Oxford University.

Tharoor was the seventh out of eight speakers that night, and he totally brought the house down. Here are just a few of the highlights that made it such a hit:


All GIFs via Oxford Union.

Tharoor's speech not only shut down the opposition, but it also reinvigorated the conversation around colonialism and reparations.

At the end of the debate, members of the Oxford Union voted for the more convincing argument. Thanks in no small part to Tharoor's passionate exhortation, the proponents of British reparations won the debate by a tally of 185 to 56.

The speech played well on the Internet, where the message resonated with younger Indians, a sign that the scars of colonialism don't fade away so easily.

There are people who subscribe to the belief that once something stops, it's over and done with. But anyone who was ever bullied or hurt by a close friend or relative will tell you otherwise. Now apply that same psychological scarring to a national identity, and make it last for centuries. You get the picture.

The historical impact of colonial oppression is still felt all across the world — from India to Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Even today, Britain retains a strong presence in India. And India isn't the only country that has struggled with the consequences of colonialism. Nor is the United Kingdom the only country that has systematically oppressed a group of people.

Tharoor's arguments against the benefits of "enlightened despotism" can easily be applied to America's treatment of black Americans and Native Americans. Like the minority outreach panel in 2013 where a participant defended slavery as altruism for giving food and shelter to black people, or literally any reference to Native Americans as being savage or uncivilized before they encountered Europeans.

Here we are, more than a century since the end of an "official" oppression against either group — and yet they still suffer from the effects of colonialism in ways both subtle and obvious (take a look at what's happening with Native Americans right now).

It's not just people of color, either. Speaking as an Irish American, I can point to the experience of my own ancestors, who were driven to migration by Britain's genocidal negligence in the face of the Great Hunger. And while I'm certainly grateful to have been born in this country, I'm also aware of how my name has been Anglicized thanks to Britain's campaign to replace the Irish language with English.

While we can't change history, it's important that we acknowledge the facts of our colonialist pasts — lest we are forced to repeat them.

It's not about the monetary amount Britain should pay in reparations, says Tharoor, "but the principle of atonement." And judging by the success of his speech, it seems this a sentiment shared by many people — in India and elsewhere.

The world is full of shameful histories, but the people in power are the only ones served by not talking about it. Even if Tharoor's speech doesn't lead to any direct reparations (which, unfortunately, is the likely outcome), it's a good reminder that the harmful effects of power and oppression don't just disappear over time, and that the moral fiber of the majority is still swayed toward justice.

Watch Tharoor's full speech below (the whole thing is pretty great):

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.