Why ‘Latinx’ Is Still Confusing Some People

Editor
By Editor June 30, 2019 07:58

Why ‘Latinx’ Is Still Confusing Some People

Why ‘Latinx’ Is Still Confusing Some People

, USA TODAY, reports that some people are still finding the term ‘Latinx’ confusing and controversial.-

“When Senator Elizabeth Warren used “Latinx” in her opening remarks during the first Democratic debate Wednesday, it was one of the highest profile uses of the term since its conception.

It was also the first time many people heard the term and it probably won’t be the last as the candidates attempt to target young, progressive voters in their campaigns.

And while some public figures and politicians are quickly adapting to the term, others within the Latin American community are trying to resist it.

So what does “Latinx” mean and why is there so much controversy surrounding it?

Latinx/Latino/Latina

“Latinx” is a gender-neutral term used in lieu of “Latino” or “Latina” to refer to a person of Latin American descent.

Using the term “Latinx” to refer to all people of Latin American decent has become more common as members in the LGBTQ community and its advocates have embraced the label. The gendered structure of the Spanish language has made “Latinx” both an inclusive and controversial term.

Pronounced “luh-TEE-neks,” Merriam-Webster dictionary added the word in 2018 to describe those of Latin American descent who don’t want to be identified by gender, or who don’t identify as being male or female.

The word was created as a gender-neutral alternative to “Latinos,” not only to better include those who are gender fluid, but also to push back on the inherently masculine term used to describe all genders in the Spanish language.

Even though “Latinos” technically refers to all genders of Latin American descent, it’s still a masculine word in Spanish.

For example, a group of females would be called “Latinas” and a group of males would be called “Latinos.” However, a group of males and females of Latin American descent would revert to the masculine “Latinos.”

George Cadava, Director of the Latina and Latino Studies program at Northwestern University, said terms to describe Latin Americans in the U.S. have constantly been evolving over the course of history. “Latinos” gained popularity as a rejection of the word “Hispanic,” which many argued was imposed by the government.

“Latinx is an even further evolution that was meant to be inclusive of people who are queer or lesbian or gay or transgender,” said Cadava. “In some cases, it was a rejection of binary gender politics.”

Many believe that the patriarchal nature of the Romantic language is not inclusive and can’t keep up with societal progress, as explained by this Twitter thread by investigative immigration reporter Aura Bogado.

However, as “Latinx” grows in popularity, it also becomes more controversial within the Latin American community. The word was rejected in 2018 by the Real Academia Española, the official source on the Spanish language. Many who agree with this decision believe it is important to conserve the language, which is spoken by over 500 million people, according to a 2017 report by the Cervantes Institute in Spain.

Another argument against “Latinx” is that it erases feminist movements in the 1970s that fought to represent women with the word “Latina,” Cadava said.

Hispanic

This controversy is similar to one that surrounded the word “Hispanic,” which was first introduced by the Nixon administration on the 1970 census.

“People will say that it was an imposed term rather than something embraced by the community itself,” Cadava said. He added that some argue the word “Hispanic” is a nod towards Spanish colonialism and shouldn’t be interchangeable with Latinx/Latino/Latina.

However, the university professor said his studies found most Hispanic Republicans prefer the word when describing their families. Democrats, on the other hand, tend to use more progressive terms like “Latinos” and more recently “Latinx.”

Regardless of political affiliation, people of Latin American decent tend to identify first with their country of heritage and then second as “Latino/Latina/Latinx” or “Hispanic” to identify with a collective group, according to Dr. Rubén Martinez, director of the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University.

For example, a person’s family who is from Mexico will typically identify as “Mexican-American” before identifying as “Latino/Latina/Latinx” or “Hispanic.”

The U.S. Census still uses “Hispanic” and defines it as the “heritage, nationality, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before arriving in the United States.””

 

Editor
By Editor June 30, 2019 07:58

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