Young Hispanics Feel Climate Change Effects Firsthand, Lead Fight for Planet

Sep 28, 2022

Thought Question: If you were to get involved to improve your world or community, where would you focus your efforts and why?

Droughts and floods led Xiye Bastida and her family to flee their small town near Mexico City. They made a new home in the Big Apple. Now, Bastida has become a leader in the fight against climate change. Both of her parents are environmentalists.

Bastida is now 20. She is one of the environmental movement’s newest leaders. She’s joined by Alexandria Villaseñor, 17. Villaseñor is a second-generation Mexican American. She founded Earth Uprising. Her organization educates and enlists young people for the cause. Then there’s Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 22. He's a hip-hop artist of Aztec descent. He once spoke to the United Nations about climate change. He also wrote a book on it: “We Rise.”

The wave of young Hispanic activists stands up for people they say are hit hardest by climate change disasters. They cite hurricanes wrecking Puerto Rico. They talk about heat waves scorching treeless Los Angeles barrios and flash floods swamping their communities. They point to studies showing Hispanic Americans are more likely to be impacted by climate change than non-Latino White people. They want more done to stop it.

To affect change, they have started with community campaigning. Bastida, for example, organized a “climate strike” in New York City. That was in 2019. It attracted 300,000 protesters. Many of them were students. She has since delivered a TED Talk. And she gave the closing speech at President Biden’s 2021 climate summit.

“I imagine a world where my children don’t have to worry about air pollution or rising sea levels or wildfires,” Bastida told Harper’s Bazaar. “I want a world where you can live your life and thrive, not survive.”

Photo from Reuters.

Which idea is highlighted throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. hurricanes in Puerto Rico prove climate change hits Hispanics the hardest
b. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez’s book launched a movement
c. Xiye Bastida is a young Hispanic environmentalist leader
d. the organization Earth Uprising enlists youth advocates to fight climate change
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