Latinx

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Latinx (/ləˈtnɛks, læ-/ lə-TEE-neks, la-) is a gender-neutral term sometimes used in lieu of Latino or Latina (referring to Latin American cultural or racial identity). The plural is Latinxs. The -x replaces the standard -o and -a endings in Italian, Sicilian, Sardinian, Spanish and related languages, which form nouns of the masculine and feminine genders, respectively. The term is a neologism that has gained traction since 2004 among intersectional advocacy groups combining the identity politics of race and gender. Reactions to this neologism have been mixed.

Similar words used for this purpose include: Latin@ , which combines the -o and -a endings; Latine (the French feminine gender noun for the French masculine gender noun, Latin); or simply the English word "Latin" which is also gender neutral.[1]

History[edit]

The term Latinx emerged from American Spanish in the early 21st century,[2] and was reportedly first used online in 2004.[3] The term has gained popularity in social media, and is mostly used by community activists and in higher education settings by students, faculty, staff, and some administrators who seek to advocate for individuals living on the borderlines of gender identity.[4] In 2016, the term appeared in the titles of academic books in the context of LGBT studies,[5] rhetoric and composition studies,[6] and comics studies.[7] According to Google Trends, interest in the term spiked in 2018 and again in 2019.[8]

Many people became more aware of the term in the month following the Orlando nightclub shooting of June 2016; Google Trends shows that searches for this term rose greatly in this period.[9]:60

A 2016 NBC News report noted that it was "difficult to pinpoint" the origins of the term, but found "anecdotal evidence" that the term was in use in Latin America.[10] The same report stated that usage of the term was "without question on the rise at U.S. colleges".[10]

At Princeton University, a student group called the Princeton University Latinx Perspective Organization was founded in 2016 to "unify Princeton's diverse Latinx community".[11] As of 2017, several student-run organizations at other institutions have utilized the word in their title.[12]

Salinas and Lozano (2017) stated that the term is influenced by Mexican indigenous communities that have a third gender role, such as Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca (see also: Gender system § Juchitán, Oaxaca, Mexico).[4] Scharrón-del Río and Aja (2015) have traced the use of Latinx in authors Beatriz Llenín Figueroa, Jaime Géliga Quiñones, Yuderkys Espinosa Miñoso and Adriana Gallegos Dextre.[13] The term has also been discussed in publications by Pastrana, Battle & Harris (2016),[5] Valdes (2017),[14][15] and many others.[16]

The term often refers specifically to LGBT people or to young people. Brian Latimer, a producer at MSNBC who identifies as nonbinary, says that the application of the term "shows a generational divide in the Hispanic community".[9]:60

On June 26, 2019, during the first 2020 Democratic Party presidential debate, the word was used by the presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren,[17] which USA Today called "one of the highest profile uses of the term since its conception".[18]

Reception[edit]

Sign at the Women's March on Washington. The sign reads, "women's, LGBTQIA, immigrant's, black, Latinx, Muslim, & disability rights are human rights".

The term Latinx has been the subject of controversy. In a 2017 article for the Los Angeles Times, Daniel Hernandez wrote "Like many of its awkward predecessors, 'Latinx' does not work. Its experimental 'x' opens too many linguistic floodgates. And why is this kind of label necessary at all?"[19]

A 2016 HuffPost article stated, "Despite the growing popularity of the term, Latinx has been faced with criticism. Many opponents of the term have suggested that using an un-gendered noun like Latinx is disrespectful to the Spanish language and some have even called the term 'a blatant form of linguistic imperialism.'"[20][21] Some refuse to use the term, as Latinx "doesn't roll off the tongue" in the Spanish language.[20] Another argument against Latinx is that "it erases feminist movements in the 1970s" that fought for use of the word Latina.[18]

However, in defense of the term, Brooklyn College professors María R. Scharrón-del Río and Alan A. Aja argued that the Spanish language itself is a form of linguistic imperialism for Latin Americans.[13][20]

Hector Luis Alamo wrote in a 2015 article for Latino Rebels, "If we dump Latino for Latinx because it offends some people, then we should go on dumping words forever since there will always be some people who find some words offensive. No word ever oppressed anybody (except maybe the word God)."[22]

Nicole Trujillo-Pagán has argued that patriarchal bias is reproduced in ostensibly "gender neutral" language[23][24][25] and asserted, "Less clear in the debate (as it has developed since then) is how the replacement silences and erases long-standing struggles to recognize the significance of gender difference and sexual violence."[26]

Although the term Latinx was rejected in 2018 by the Royal Spanish Academy, an authority on the Spanish language,[18][27] it was added to the Merriam-Webster English dictionary[28] in the same year and continued to grow in popularity.[18]

The term Latinx allows those who don't identify within the gender binary to be seen and accepted by getting rid of the gendered ending of Latina/o, said Yara Simón in Remezcla.[29] Some commentators, such as Ed Morales, a lecturer at Columbia University and author of the 2018 book Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture, associate the term with the ideas of Gloria Anzaldúa, a Chicana feminist. Morales writes that "refusal to conform to male/female gender binaries" parallels "the refusal to conform to a racial binary".[9]:61

Some disability rights activists have raised accessibility concerns with Latinx and its alternative Latin@ because they cannot be pronounced by screen readers used by the blind and visually impaired.[30]

Alternatives[edit]

An alternative term is Latin@ (pronounced Latínao) where the postfixed -@ is taken to represent a combination of -a and -o in a single character. This variant is somewhat older, in use since the 1990s.[31] It has received criticism for adhering to a binary view of gender.[13]

Another variant is Latine (the feminine gender French noun for the masculine gender French noun, Latin) or Latinu, where the vowel -e or -u is taken as a "neutral" alternative to either -a or -o. Proponents of Latine say it sounds more natural and grammatical to native Spanish speakers.[3]

The English word "Latin" itself is also gender neutral and can be used to describe someone from Latin Europe or a Latin-American country.[1] In his LA Times piece, Hernandez opined: "I've been calling myself 'Latin'. And it feels great."[19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Latin". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  2. ^ "Latinx". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  3. ^ a b Gamio Cuervo, Arlene B. (August 2016). "Latinx: A Brief Guidebook". Academia.edu. Princeton LGBT Center.
  4. ^ a b Salinas, Cristobal; Lozano, Adele (November 16, 2017). "Mapping and recontextualizing the evolution of the term Latinx: An environmental scanning in higher education". Journal of Latinos and Education. doi:10.1080/15348431.2017.1390464.
  5. ^ a b Pastrana, Jr., Antonio (Jay); Battle, Juan; Harris, Angelique (December 22, 2016). An Examination of Latinx LGBT Populations Across the United States: Intersections of Race and Sexuality. Palgrave Pivot. Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-56074-2. ISBN 9781137560742. OCLC 974040623.
  6. ^ Ruiz, Iris D.; Sánchez, Raúl, eds. (October 15, 2016). Decolonizing Rhetoric and Composition Studies: New Latinx Keywords for Theory and Pedagogy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-52724-0. ISBN 9781137527233. OCLC 934502504.
  7. ^ Aldama, Frederick Luis (2016). Latinx Comic Book Storytelling: An Odyssey by Interview. San Diego, CA: ¡Hyperbole Books!, a San Diego State University Press imprint. ISBN 1938537920. OCLC 973339575.
  8. ^ "latinx – Explore – Google Trends". Google Trends. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
  9. ^ a b c Brammer, John Paul (May 2019). "Generation X: Digging Into the Messy History of 'Latinx' Helped Me Embrace My Complex Identity". Mother Jones. Vol. 44 no. 3. pp. 59–61.
  10. ^ a b Reyes, Raul A. (September 29, 2016). "Are you Latinx? As Usage Grows, Word Draws Approval, Criticism". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  11. ^ "Home". Princeton University Latinx Perspectives Organization. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  12. ^ "Student Organizations | UNC Latina/o Studies Program". lsp.unc.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-23. "Iowa State University – Student Organizations". www.stuorg.iastate.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-23. "Latinx Student Organizations | Multicultural Resource Center". new.oberlin.edu. Oberlin College. October 24, 2016. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  13. ^ a b c Scharrón-del Río, María R.; Aja, Alan A. (December 5, 2015). "The Case for 'Latinx': Why Intersectionality Is Not a Choice". Latino Rebels. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  14. ^ Valdés, Vanessa K. (March 15, 2017). Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. ISBN 9781438465159. OCLC 961828672.
  15. ^ Johnson, Jessica Marie (December 12, 2015). "Thinking About the 'X'". Black Perspectives. AAIHS. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  16. ^ "Results for 'latinx' – 'Book'". WorldCat. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
  17. ^ Weinberg, Abigail (June 26, 2019). "The First Question of the Democratic Debate was a Challenge to Elizabeth Warren. She Didn't Back Down". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  18. ^ a b c d Rodriguez, Adrianna (June 29, 2019). "'Latinx' explained: A history of the controversial word and how to pronounce it". USA Today. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
  19. ^ a b Hernandez, Daniel (December 17, 2017). "The case against 'Latinx'". Los Angeles Times.
  20. ^ a b c Ramirez, Tanisha Love; Blay, Zeba (July 5, 2016). "Why People Are Using The Term 'Latinx'". HuffPost. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  21. ^ Guerra, Gilbert; Orbea, Gilbert (November 19, 2015). "The argument against the use of the term 'Latinx'". The Phoenix. Retrieved 2019-07-01. This is a blatant form of linguistic imperialism – the forcing of U.S. ideals upon a language in a way that does not grammatically or orally correspond with it.
  22. ^ Luis Alamo, Hector (December 12, 2015). "The X-ing of Language: The Case Against 'Latinx'". Latino Rebels.
  23. ^ Gastil, John (December 1990). "Generic pronouns and sexist language: The oxymoronic character of masculine generics". Sex Roles. 23 (11–12): 629–643. doi:10.1007/BF00289252.
  24. ^ Sniezek, Janet A.; Jazwinski, Christine H. (October 1986). "Gender bias in English: In search of fair language". Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 16 (7): 642–662. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1986.tb01165.x.
  25. ^ Prewitt-Freilino, Jennifer L.; Caswell, T. Andrew; Laakso, Emmi K. (February 2012). "The gendering of language: A comparison of gender equality in countries with gendered, natural gender, and genderless languages". Sex Roles. 66 (3–4): 268–281. doi:10.1007/s11199-011-0083-5.
  26. ^ Trujillo-Pagán, Nicole (February 27, 2018). "No Shock or Awe About 'Acting' Latinx". Latino Rebels. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  27. ^ Cataño, Adriana (November 28, 2018). "The RAE Has Made Its Decision About Latinx and Latine in Its First Style Manual". Remezcla. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
  28. ^ "Latinx". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  29. ^ Simón, Yara (September 14, 2018). "Hispanic vs. Latino vs. Latinx: A Brief History of How These Words Originated". Remezcla. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  30. ^ Berastaín, Pierre; Barillas, Karina; DeLeon, Pierre (August 31, 2017). "Should organizations use Latin@ or Latinx?". National Latin@ Network Blog. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  31. ^ "What is Latinx and AfroLatinx?". #HeyMiGente. Medium. 2016-08-18. Retrieved 2017-04-23.