Think back to a simpler time, when the stakes were low, no rent checks were due, and your biggest concern was making it to your first period class on time. What were you doing when you were 15 years old? Trying to impress the opposite sex? Trying to impress the same sex? Struggling to get a passing grade in chemistry? Or maybe you were moonlighting as an internationally recognized environmental warrior, spending summer vacations bouncing between global forums and recording conscious hip hop tracks in your down time? No? Although it sounds preposterous, there is at least one kid in the world who is doing just that.
Meet Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: the Boulder, Colorado-raised son of a Mexican father and an American mother who puts 99.9% of American teenagers — past, present, and future — to shame. And in case you’re having trouble believing it, this impeccably shot short doc from the folks over at BLKFLM put the spotlight on the self-described “indigenous environmental eco-hip hop artist and activist,” showing the multifaceted adolescent in his home environment while a voiceover interview lays down his perspective on the struggle.
On the visual end, we see Xiuhtezcatl doing exactly what we would expect a 15-year-old to be doing: hanging out with friends, going over his summer travel schedule with his mother, climbing trees, jumping off roofs, and goofing around with his indigenous environmental eco-activist 12-year-old brother. Yet the confidence and depth of understanding that comes across in his voiceover gives the impression that you’re actually listening to a self-assured second-year grad student, not a suburban teen who only recently entered the wacky world of puberty.
In addition to potty-mouthed reflections on that one time he received death threats from the multinational oil lobby, young Xiuhtezcatl drops knowledge bombs along the lines of: “The biggest challenge we face is shifting human consciousness, not saving the planet, because the planet doesn’t need saving, we do.” Whoa. (But for real, if a 15-year-old version of myself even dared to say “sh*t” like that in front of my mami, I’d be asking for a chancletazo upside the dome. Kid’s got guts.)
Xiuhtezcatl also stresses how important his Mexican heritage has been in instilling the values that guide his struggle, and we are treated to a pretty dope Aztec ritual led by his father to get the point across.
In the end, this short video is only another notch in a belt that includes heading up the Earth Guardians activist org, speaking at the U.N., TED talks, and a 2013 recognition as “Youth Changemaker of the Year” from president Obama (do the math, he was 13 at the time.) But, as Xiuhtezcatl so eloquently explains: “I hope I don’t have to do this in ten years, because hopefully world leaders will get their sh*t together and people will rise up. I want to focus on… hanging out with friends, and getting in trouble, and doing stupid stuff.”
Hopefully soon, Xiuhtezcatl. Hopefully very soon.