Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s “Evolved Man of the Week” profile. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved person, famous and non-famous individual alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the hip-hop artist, author, and environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.
Martinez has spoken about the effects of fossil fuels on indigenous and other marginalized communities. He has spoken at the United Nations several times, gaining popularity after delivering a 2015 speech at the United Nations General Assembly in English, Spanish, and his native language, Nahuatl.
Martinez is one of 21 plaintiffs involved in Juliana v. United States, a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government for failing to act on climate change. The lawsuit was filed in 2015, and a federal court rejected the government’s move to dismiss the case in November 2016. Martinez is also one of seven plaintiffs in the Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission case; that case is a state-level lawsuit similar to Juliana v. United States.
Martinez was born in Colorado but moved to Mexico in his infancy. He lived with his family in Boulder, Colorado, through 2019, moving later to Portland, Oregon. His mother, Tamara Roske, was one of the founders of the Earth Guardian Community Resource Center, a high school in Maui, Hawaii. Roske served as Executive Director of Earth Guardians until May 2021. Martinez has two younger siblings, sister Tonantzin and brother Itzcuauhtli. His father, Siri Martinez, is of Aztec heritage and has raised his children in the tradition of the Mexica (one of the native peoples of México). His family has transferred the traditional knowledge of seeing an individual as part of a greater whole and of emphasizing a connection between all aspects of the natural world. Therefore, Martinez sees the abuse of nature as “the tearing apart of a fragile and revered system.
Here is Martinez in his own words about the idea of changing the world:
I don’t want to change the world. I think the narrative of wanting to change the world is a lot less tangible for people and I think it actually often removes people from feeling empowered to create small change. It takes away the power of creating change in our lives and our families and our communities. I think at first I had this grand idea of changing the world, but I realized that change comes from really small places. It begins with how we change our lives, our communities, our culture, and that influences humanitarian change in the world. And the world is fine. If you look at Earth, like it’s all good. Humans are the ones that need to do some work.
We at the Evolving Man Project wish Martinez continued luck as he makes the world a little bit better. In his two-plus decades on this planet, Martinez has proven that small deeds and passion can make another world possible, regardless of age or background. Today we honor Xiuhtezcatl Martinez as our Evolved Man of the Week.