Meet Xiuhtezcatl Martinez - a 19 year old American hip hop artist (first name pronounced ‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’). However Xiuhtezcatl has a very defining quality that sets him apart from most of society, his powerful voice in influencing today’s youth about environmental activism.
Xiuhtezcatl’s journey into environmental activism began when he was only six, getting involved through his family who were all strong environmental activists, helping them with all their endeavours through speeches and volunteering. When he was nine years old, he started creating his own movements for change in his local community, starting off with campaigning for the ban of pesticides in parks. From here, he’s also campaigned for containing coal ash and for a temporary prohibition on fracking across his state.
Xiuhtezcatl grew up with a heavily influenced Aztec heritage, which stressed the strong connection between people and nature. His Dad was also very involved in traditional spiritual rituals that deepened this connection with nature and taught Xiuhtezcatl that the Earth was a spiritual being that had to be treated with respect.
Today, Xiuhtezcatl is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organisation that has crews in over 50 countries, all making a difference. The main aim of Earth Guardians is to “inspire and train diverse youth to be effective leaders in the environmental, climate and social justice movements. Through the power of art, music, storytelling, civic engagement, and legal action, we’re creating impactful solutions to some of the most critical issues we face as a global community.”
As the youth director of Earth guardians, Xiuhtezcatl has traveled all around the world educating the youth about the severe condition of the planet they are inheriting and inspiring them into acting to make a difference in helping fix this major world issue, one step at a time.
But Xiuhtezcatl doesn’t just teach the youth through words, but by example. In 2015 (when he was just 15 years old), Xiuhtezcatl addressed the General Assembly at a United Nations meeting in New York City, urging them into immediate climate action to save the future for the youth of today.
Xiuhtezcatl also played a major role in the lawsuit filed against the United States government, Juliana v. United States. This lawsuit included 21 youth’s, represented by the non-profit organisation Our Children's Trust as well as Earth Guardians. They argued that the federal government was denying the youth from their constitutional right to life, liberty and property by ignoring climate change, and this argument was driven by the public trust doctrine.
“The public trust doctrine is a legal principle written a very long time ago and adopted and enforced by many states. It says that our natural resources – the air, the water, the earth – are to be protected for future generations, and it’s the responsibility of leaders to do that. The climate is one of the most important resources – it belongs to no one and it affects everyone. So why don’t we hold these leaders accountable for not protecting these resources?” Says Xiuhtezcatl in an interview with Rolling Stone.
As if he doesn’t do enough already, Xiuhtezcatl is also a musician, portraying his environmental activism in his hip hop career as well. In his music, Xiuhtezcatl spreads the message about saving the world and the environment. He uses Hip Hop as an outlet to inspire younger generations in a way that they would be more willing to listen and understand. Xiuhtezcatl is extremely passionate about being able to make such a change in the world, especially through such an exciting medium like Hip Hop.
All of the amazing influence he has spread throughout the world has gained plenty of attention. In fact, in 2013 he was awarded the United States Community Service Award by President Obama, and was then chosen as the youngest out of 24 national change-makers who got to serve on the President's youth council. Xiuhtezcatl has also received countless other prestigious awards, such as the Peace First Prize, 2016 Captain Planet Award, 2018 My Climate Hero, TIME Next Generation Leaders and an MTV Emma Award.
Xiuhtezcatl knows that the climate change crisis is an emergency and he is doing everything in his power to not only battle it himself but to inspire others to do the same. “The climate crisis is displacing people and taking lives as we speak. Yes, down the line in the future we have a lot at stake but it’s also like, immediately we are the most vulnerable and immediately we need our voices to be represented as the generation that is here today, not just as this abstract idea of future generations—fighting to protect the earth for future generations, ‘cause no, the fight is right now, right here.”
These words, and all of Xiuhtezcatl’s teachings around the world has changed the world for the better in educating and inspiring the youth of today. His success is bound to continue for many years to come.
Earth Guardians "Be The Change" Music Video filmed by HBO - 2015