A couple of years ago, I was in a meeting with a university president and other key people of that university discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion. I was the only Mexican-American in the group. We were developing the strategic plan of our DEI work and stressing how crucial it was to be intentional with curriculum, programming, and the makeup of faculty and staff in order to be balanced and healthy as an institution. Within those discussions, I heard the term “Latinx” for the first time. Wait a minute! Say what?! Exqueese me? Baking powder? It was such a foreign concept to me at that time. It was just bizarre.
I told that committee that not everyone will appreciate their use of the term Latinx and it sent a much needed dialogue to result in the creationism of a campus wide survey to ask each member how they would like to be identified as a community. Small victories!
The term Latinx was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in September of 2018. You hear it as the new buzz term to identify people of Latino/Hispanic backgrounds. Latinx is the gender-neutral word for people of Latin American descent. So instead of using nouns that are either masculine or feminine, the x becomes all-encompassing to be inclusive of those who express their identity in their own way.
According to Pew Research Center, a study conducted as part of the 2019 National Survey of Latinos concluded that about one-in-four U.S. Hispanics have heard of the term Latinx, but just 3% use it to identify themselves (Noe-Bustamante, L., Mora, L., & Hugo Lopez, M. (2020, August 11).
The thing is that, how does the x identify how an individual would like to be identified? Once again, it puts us in a category that we did not assign to ourselves. It was assigned for us. So in turn, it becomes another example of how instead of asking how a person would like to be addressed, it is assumed that since there is an x at the end of the word, everyone would be in agreement and accept the assignment.
I, myself, understand the purpose of the term Latinx. However, I won’t necessarily use it because I identify myself as Mexican-American. I also call myself Latina. So you see, just because it’s ok for one person doesn’t mean it’s ok for everyone. To assign and categorize our community that prides itself on its unique rich culture and history of its origins and identity is where oppression remains, this is where cultural appropriation remains, this is where racial inequality remains, this is where racial bias remains.
How about you? Do you identify with the term Latinx? How do you feel about the term? Will you use Latinx to identify yourself?
Noe-Bustamante, L., Mora, L., & Hugo Lopez, M. (2020, August 11). About One-in-Four U.S. Hispanics Have Heard of Latinx, but Just 3% Use It. Www.Pewresearch.Org. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2020/08/11/about-one-in-four-u-s-hispanics-have-heard-of-latinx-but-just-3-use-it/.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (n.d.). “Latinx” And Gender Inclusivity. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/word-history-latinx.