There aren’t many teenagers who have sued the US government, but that’s exactly what Xiuhtezcatl Martinez did. In 2015, along with 20 other young Americans, the rapper, activist and global youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organisation, filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for knowingly contributing to climate change (by taking affirmative actions that cause fossil fuel production and greenhouse gas emissions).
Born and raised in Colorado, Martinez has been involved in environmental activism since the age of six, when he began fighting fracking in his state. He organised his first action at nine – this time in protest of the spraying of chemical pesticides in his local park – has since spoken at a United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro and addressed the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York City. In March of this year, Martinez appeared on the first digital cover of Another Man, fronting a portfolio of activists from the US and UK.
Undoubtedly one of the most incendiary voices of his generation on climate issues, Martinez is of indigenous Mexican heritage and a descendent of Meshika or Aztec people, which plays a significant role in his life and work. “Deeper than activism, deeper than political action, my life has been a journey towards recognising the humanity in me,” he says in his Another Man interview. “I fell in love with the Earth, with the ocean, with the force of Colorado. And that showed me what I needed to protect.”