Lady Gaga just gave one of the most emotionally powerful performances in Oscar history.

At the 88th Academy Awards, Lady Gaga gave the most important and powerful Oscar performance since last year's "Glory" by John Legend and Common.

Reminiscent of last year's showstopping, politically charged performance of "Glory" from the Oscar-nominated film "Selma," Gaga brought the house down with her rendition of "Til It Happens to You," her Oscar-nominated song from the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Hunting Ground," about sexual assault on college campuses.


Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Gaga was introduced by none other than Vice President Joe Biden, who, after uproarious applause and a standing ovation, gave a short speech that many sexual assault activists and survivors never thought they'd hear from such a high-ranking political figure, let alone on the Oscars stage.

Vice President Joe Biden onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

"Despite significant progress over the last few years, too many women and men, on and off college campuses, are still victims of sexual abuse," Biden said, calling for people to take a simple pledge: "I will intervene in situations when consent has not or cannot be given."

Gaga took to the stage to sing, the emotional nature of the song visible on her face.

She began her performance alone, seated at a white piano, with a stark black backdrop.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Then, as the song built and the music swelled, Gaga was joined on stage by dozens of survivors of rape and sexual assault.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

It was raw, heart-wrenching, positively earth-shaking, and while "Til It Happens to You" didn't take home the award for Best Original Song (that honor went to Sam Smith's James Bond theme "Writing's On The Wall"), it was a moment that spoke to something much, much bigger.

While Gaga's performance was emotionally and visually captivating, the issue at its core is frighteningly invisible.

The song was written for the critically acclaimed documentary "The Hunting Ground," a film that takes an intimate and startling look at sexual assault on college campuses in the United States.

The film focuses mainly on two students at the University of North Carolina who were sexually assaulted and later became strong anti-rape activists while filing a lawsuit against their school.

Univesity of North Carolina, which features heavily in the film. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

"The Hunting Ground" raises many difficult and important questions about the issue of sexual assault. Why does it go underreported? Why do the alleged rapists get away with it? And, importantly, why do universities often go out of their way to protect students who are accused of rape, while ignoring and often blaming the victims?

In a survey of more than 150,000 students, 23% of the women said they have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact.

That's just about 1 in 4. If that doesn't shock you, maybe this will: 34% of female seniors at the University of Michigan reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact, 32% at Yale, and 29% at Harvard.

The survey reveals that even the best schools in the country aren't immune to this tragic and horrifying occurrence.

"The results warrant the attention and concern of everybody in our community," Drew Faust, president of Harvard said in a statement. "Sexual assault is intolerable, and we owe it to one another to confront it openly, purposefully and effectively. This is our problem."

Joe Biden with a rape victim in 2014 at the launch of the "It's on Us" campaign to prevent campus sexual assault. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

Sexual assault might seem like the sort of crime that should always be reported, but it's actually severely underreported.

That's partly because of institutional efforts at universities that make things worse for the victims who report incidents instead of helping them get justice. Sexual assault is one of the only crimes where the victim often ends up on trial, their whole sexual history and personality laid bare and combed through by people looking for any shred of evidence that they brought their assault on themselves or were somehow to blame for it. Guilty until proven innocent.

Unfortunately, while sexual assault on college campuses remains a huge problem, as Gaga sang in front of millions of viewers at the Academy Awards, survivors who want to speak out have to do so while swimming against a current of guilt, isolation, and shaming peers who tell them to simply get over it.

Not to mention they have to go up against institutions seemingly committed to, at best, ignoring their pleas for help and, at worst, covering them up.

Students at UCLA held a rally on "Denim Day," which commemorates a rape victim case being overturned in 1998 because she was wearing jeans. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

A study published last year found that university reports of sexual assault increase by approximately 44% after the university is audited, which means that these institutions may be covering up, underreporting, or otherwise downplaying an astonishing number of cases.

Corey Rayburn Yung, a law professor at the University of Kansas who helped conduct the study, told Vocativ how she interprets the data:

“When it comes to sexual assault and rape, the norm for universities and colleges is to downplay the situation and the numbers... The result is students at many universities continue to be attacked and victimized, and punishment isn’t meted out to the rapists and sexual assaulters.”

Problems as systemic as this one don't get solved until enough people are talking about it and it reaches a breaking point.

Last night's performance was a new venue in which to talk about it. A big one.

Campus sexual assault affects all of us.

Even if it hasn't affected your life personally, it's probably affected the life of someone you know, even if you aren't aware of it. And none of us should be OK with the number of women who report being sexually assaulted at institutions of learning that should be safe spaces for everyone.

When some of us are unsafe, we're all unsafe. Colleges and universities are where people go to make themselves better, to learn and grow as people. Not to have their lives upturned by trauma and their education compromised by an institution (that they pay thousands of dollars to attend) working against them.

The message that booms from Lady Gaga's lyrics is a stark and simple one: "You simply don't know what this is like, how bad it is, how painful it can be, until it happens to you."

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Take the vice president's pledge at ItsOnUs.org.

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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.

Amazon

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.


Amazon

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.


Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.


Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

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.

Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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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.