Indigenous Rapper on Climate Activism and Intersectionality

Indigenous activist and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is one of the young people suing the U.S. over inaction on the climate crisis. Here, he explains why communities of color are key to the climate conversation.

Humanity and life on Earth are being fundamentally changed

Indigenous climate activist and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has been advocating for the environment since he was 6. Martinez is 1 of 21 young people who filed a 2015 lawsuit against the federal government for its inaction on climate change. The Obama and Trump administrations both tried to get the lawsuit dismissed. It now awaits a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on whether it can go to trial.

“The U.S. government has known about the climate crisis, has known about the contribution the fossil fuel industry has for over 50 years and has failed not just to adequately act on our behalf, but has directly gone forth to perpetuate this crisis by subsidizing the fossil fuel industry by opening up opening up federal lands for exploitation and extraction. My generation is going to be the most affected and we are we are claiming that the actions taken by the government are in direct violation of our constitutional rights. This is us experiencing the loss of our homes and our communities due to permafrost melt in Alaska, or due to sea level rise in Florida, or due to the wildfires that I've experienced in my backyard in Colorado. This isn't just about like polar bears and sea level rise. This is about humanity and life on Earth being fundamentally changed forever. And that is what we are up against. That's why this is a crisis. That's why this is an emergency. There's so many things you can do in your own homes — like not let the water run. Young people are standing up all over the planet because we see climate change as a human rights issue,” Xiuhtezcatl Martinez tells Brut.

As the youth director of Earth Guardians, Martinez trains young people from around the world to lead climate movements. He’s also launched NOW, a subscription service for people who want to fund reforestation — with the goal of planting a trillion trees in 10 years. Martinez says it’s vital that the environmental movement include the voices of indigenous peoples and communities of color.


10/04/2019 10:19 AM
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  • Brut
    10/04/2019 13:56

    "These governments are trying to lead us to extinction." Teenage climate activist Artemisa Xakriaba has a message from the indigenous community to Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro.

  • Brut
    10/04/2019 14:00

    Learn more about Xiuhtezcatl's reforestation project NOW:

  • Cody B.
    10/04/2019 20:47

    Very conceited notion that humans have had such a catastrophic impact on a planet that according to the same sciences is 400 billion years old has been hit by meteors, comets, solar flares, solar radiation, worldwide fires, worldwide freezing, earthquakes, tectonic plate shifts, and the magnetic poles reversing. to say that man has made such a dramatic change is arrogant and wrong this Earth will still be here long after man is gone

  • Charles H.
    10/04/2019 22:37

    Yeah thats it sue over something you helped cause

  • Russ A.
    10/05/2019 05:08

    Why the U.S.?

  • Eric A.
    10/05/2019 20:44


  • Bill S.
    10/05/2019 21:10

    Not gonna happen young man.

  • Troy S.
    10/05/2019 22:26

    I bet pyicics make a killing off you morons.

  • Warren G.
    10/07/2019 10:24

    Most of these climate change activists don't mind sucking down smoke from a pot pipe and contaminating their lungs with smoke but they're worried about climate that they can't change. Who ever told that little girl about climate change should be arrested for child abuse. The left has no shame, anything for their agenda.

  • Cathy G.
    10/07/2019 21:15

    I wonder if his traveling all over to perform concerts has any effect on climate change?

  • Chrystopher A.
    10/08/2019 00:07

    HURRY!!! We NEED to lower CO2 levels to 160ppm or else the photosynthesis will continue! STOP the photosynthesis!!

  • Manny B.
    10/08/2019 03:09

    Why not sue China and India as well? Coward

  • Herman T.
    10/08/2019 04:05

    Federal government does not own land ! If you want to save earth, you have to stop living like you all do , period. its mostly contamination of our environments that going to kill you.. not climate change ! and yes you are right about AMERICA !

  • Minnie C.
    10/08/2019 18:28

    What's a pyicic?

  • Georgia M.
    10/09/2019 02:28

    Why do these trolls feel compelled to rag on young activists trying to save the world? Are they being paid?

  • Joey B.
    10/09/2019 03:35

    No global warming it’s already global burning stop oil mining!!!😂

  • Catherine M.
    10/09/2019 11:03

    There are other countries that are a lot worse. The US does not have that much pollution

  • Catherine M.
    10/09/2019 11:04

    People of color? He looks white to me?

  • Gary B.
    10/09/2019 16:06


  • Joe T.
    10/09/2019 18:00

    But hes wrong so.......