North Texas Daily

‘Latinx’ is white-washing an entire community

‘Latinx’ is white-washing an entire community

‘Latinx’ is white-washing an entire community
April 17
12:00 2021

Latino is a term used to refer to a demographic of people from South America. It’s a term that has been used by the Latin community for generations to describe themselves as Hispanic or Chicano. ‘Latinx’ has risen in popularity over the last ten years as identity politics has become a more widely discussed topic in mainstream media. First, I want to say I’m happy we are having deeper discussions that will provide inclusion for different communities of people. I fully believe that America is made greater by celebrating the diversity of its citizens whether it’s by race, gender or sexuality. However, Latinx falls short of its intentions because it’s a white American-based decision made for an entirely different community of people without asking for their input.

It’s imperative to look at the word from an objective point of view. In Spanish, masculine pronouns have always been dominant. For example, if a group of people are going out to the mall, one person can say, “Nosotros vamos al centro comercial” or “We are going to the mall.” If the group is made up entirely of men, you use “nosotros.” If the group is entirely made up of women, you use “nosotras.” Even if the group is made up of seven girls and one guy, the pronoun becomes “nosotros.”

Despite the rise of Latinx in American culture, there hasn’t been any form of progression in the Spanish language. The Latino community is split not so much on the usage of the word as an identifier, but being grouped together in it. As a Mexican American, I know the history of past generations being forced to assimilate to white American standards in the 1930s and ’40s. There was a time when Chicano was considered a bad word because people using the term were ashamed of calling themselves Mexican or Hispanic so they could fit in with the white crowd.

Latinx feels like it’s a term being forced on the Latino community to make them “woke.”  While some Latinos use the term to identify themselves, most don’t. Only three percent of U.S. Hispanics use the term and only one in four have heard of the term, according to the Pew Research Center. So, who is championing Latinx? The term originated from English speakers and while some Spanish-speaking media platforms have used the term for their websites, it does not appeal to or represent the typical Latin American.

Though it’s not through an aggressive manner, Latinx feels like it’s an attempt to colonize a language. Spanish is a heavily gendered language and there is a political push to “fix” what isn’t broken. A counterargument can be made that Spanish is already a colonizer’s language. The Spanish invaded indigenous groups of people in Mexico and through Latin America. Because the Spanish were successful in their pillage, indigenous groups like Mayans and Aztecs were forced to abandon their native tongue as well as some of their culture.

Though Spanish originated from European invaders, it has been spoken for hundreds of years by the Latino community and has been influenced by indigenous groups who were conquered. Spanish has a long, cultural history and it feels like it’s being changed to appease progressive Americans who want to play the role of a white savior delivering a group of people from the error of their ways.

For me, Latinx does not symbolize good change. If some Hispanics feel the label works for them, wonderful, but Spanish should not be influenced by people outside of the culture who don’t understand it to begin with.

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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  1. A concerned alumni
    A concerned alumni April 18, 10:14

    Absolutely disappointing to see NTD publishing articles with very little research besides referencing at a statistic that many people have criticized for not considering the social contexts of gender nonconformity in the community. This article falsely claims that latinx was a white academic creation, that chicano was adopted for the sake of assimilation, and also conflating race and ethnicity (latino ≠ not white). There are conversations and criticisms to be had about the term latinx and forcing a community to use a term that they do not identify with, but similar criticisms can be said about latino. There are lots of discussions we must address about language shifting and the place of gender nonconformity in the context of language, but these conversations begin with proper research not preconceived notions of the word. While I agree that it is not my favorite term (I personally prefer latine) I also did the research to know latinx has its roots in Latin American lgbtq activism and US spanish speaking latines, not white academia.

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  2. Reader
    Reader April 26, 08:30

    I feel like your opinion on using Latinx is only valid if you are nonbinary, a woman, or a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Many Americans are comfortable misgendering people and don’t care about gender inclusivity. I think the case is similar for many Latin American countries. Saying that most Latinos do not use the term doesn’t mean anything because the majority of people are not tolerant of genders outside of the gender binary anyway. The group that I feel should be able to choose whether or not they prefer the term Latinx are Latinos that are members of the LGBTQ+ community. If that is how they want to be referred to as, it is up to everyone, Americans and Latinos alike, to respect it.

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