Erin Currier

Young Climate Activist, Xiye Bastida

Acrylic & mixed media on panel, 24"h x 18"w, Item No. 17024,

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Xiye Bastida

A member of the Otomi-Toltec Nation, youth climate activist Xiye Bastida was born and raised in a small town called San Pedro Tultepec, outside of Mexico City. There, she experienced the effects of the climate crisis firsthand. Her town experienced drought for two years, followed by sudden heavy rainfall and flooding. When her family later moved to New York City, she saw what Superstorm Sandy had done to New York and the seashore. It was then that she realized that “wherever you are, the climate crisis is affecting everyone, everywhere,” she said. “I felt like I needed to do something.”

Today, at 17, Xiye Bastida is one of the most effective voices in the youth climate movement. A leader of the Fridays for Future youth climate strike, she is also a member of the administration committee of the Peoples Climate Movement, as well as the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion. A crucial element to her activism is bringing Indigenous peoples to the vanguard of the struggle:

A lot of people see the climate movement as having gained a lot of momentum recently because of the youth movement. But we know as youth that we did not start the movement at all. We’re just bringing the element of urgency. And we also know that the environmental movement didn’t start 60 years ago with [Rachel Carson’s] Silent Spring, or when Earth Day started 50 years ago next April. Indigenous people have been taking care of the Earth for thousands of years because that is their culture, that is their way of life. For me, being an environmental activist and a climate justice activist is not a hobby, it’s a way of life.

The (recent) climate movement did start in Europe with Greta Thunberg, and a lot of people often say that it is a white movement. But there are all these environmental justice organizations, people on the front lines of the crisis who are fighting for their rights. I’m seeing those two sides starting to merge, because it is a common cause. The predominantly white, mainstream environmental movement starting to acknowledge all the indigenous, black, and brown communities on the front line. These two are merging in an amazing way that is going to make the movement stronger.

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