Next-Gen 2020: Xiye Bastida
Every January, Milk.xyz announces the 10 people we believe will have the greatest impact on the art/music/fashion/activism spheres in that year.
Today we have a nomination from climate activist, rapper, and Milk fam Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, “Xiye is a warrior for our generation, who speaks with the strength and wisdom of her ancestors. Indigenous women are of the most crucial voices to heed at times like these. I’m honored to walk in this movement along such a brilliant and fierce leader. It gives me hope in the continuation of youth leadership guiding and shaping the future.” Still in high school, and preparing to go onto university, Xiye Bastida is already a climate warrior. Leading climate marches all over the city, speaking on the Global Citizen’s stage alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and walking the red carpet at Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year, are just a few things that put Bastida on our radar.
What’s your 2020 vision? What do you hope to accomplish?
2019 was the year of raising awareness. 2020 will be the year of projects, action, and real change. This year adults were startled by the youth’s desire to rise up and tackle the climate crisis. They would ask us questions relating to what our motivation was. This year we want adults to ask us how they can help us.
Where are you from and why are you now in NYC?
I am from San Pedro Tultepec, Mexico. I am in New York City because I am a student here. I am also in New York City because it is the hub of change-making and innovation. It is a privilege –as in it’s easier– to be an activist in New York City, so I intend to use all the resources that are available to me and create the most impactful change.
When did you first get into the climate activism world?
In 2015 my town suffered from flooding in Mexico. When I moved to New York I saw the impact that Hurricane Sandy had on communities. That is when I realized that climate change follows you, so the only thing you can do is face it in every way possible. When I was sixteen I started organizing the environmental club at my school to go lobby our representatives. We went to City Hall to testify on behalf of the declaration of a climate emergency. But all o this was not enough, we were not seeing any changes. When Greta Thunberg started striking for the climate, I thought, “This is it.” That’s when I began organizing school strikes and became a city-wide organizer.
What’s a good starting point for getting involved in climate justice?
There are two things that are important for getting involved. Firstly, do not be afraid to join our weekly strikes or to reach out to us. We have a principle to meet people where they are, which means that we will teach you everything you need to know about how to be an activist, and no prior experience is necessary. The second thing is that almost any passion that you have can turn into climate activism if you execute that passion with a climate lens. That means that if you have an architecture project and you design an environmentally friendly house with renewable energy– you are already part of the solution.
How long have you been striking? Can you tell us a bit about your experience?
My first strike was on March 15th. I started weekly striking on July 12th, which means that I have been striking for over 20 consecutive weeks. Our weekly strikes are about 30 people now, it used to be one or two people before. Although our weekly numbers don’t grow significantly, our Global Strike numbers do. During our first New York City strike, we had 5,000 people. Six months later we had 300,000 people in our September 20 climate strike. The numbers are growing, now we need every single striker to become an activist.
Why do you do what you do?
I would wait to get a degree, grow up, find a cause, and then change the world. But we don’t have time for that when it comes to the climate crisis. We don’t choose to do this, we have to. We are not “passionate” about climate change. We are trying to stop more catastrophes from happening. And most importantly, we don’t want everyone to be affected by the climate crisis to realize we are in one. I do this because I am passionate about making the world a better place for everyone.
What is one of the most powerful moments that came from your activism?
One time over 50 strikers stormed the stage of COP25 in Madrid. We were in a plenary room with world leaders from around the world. We went on stage without permission and started singing about climate justice. That was one of the most powerful moments of my activism because it showed that the youth are united internationally, and it also showed that we are not going to stop fighting.
Highlight of your year?
I realized that one person with drive and determination can change the world.
Could you sum up your year in one word?
DIRECTOR + EDITOR: Jordan Shelwood
PHOTOGRAPHER: Juliet Wolf
SCORE: Skyler Hawkins
Stay tuned to Milk for more from our Next-Gen.