Graphic via Terry Blas, Vox.
Let’s talk about identity. I consider myself Latino, others may identify as something else. In the last year, or maybe longer, the identifying word Latinx popped up more and more, but it’s been around much longer.
According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, “analysts trace the original use of Latinx to the mid-2000s when it began to appear in web searches. The word started a slow trend upward in June 2016, according to Google Trends data.” So why are people using Latinx? Latinx is a gender-neutral identifier. It is used to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ community.
I completely understand that Spanish is a language that is extremely gendered; there are masculine and feminine terms. And to be honest there are many other languages that are gendered. However, when I say I am Latino, I don’t use it as a way to gender myself. Latinx, to me, doesn’t define me. That’s pretty much what comes down to it; and just like myself, I understand why Latino/a doesn’t fully identify others.
ThinkNow Research conducted a national survey indicating that 98 percent of Latino-Hispanic people do not identify with “Latinx.” The most preferred words were Hispanic and Latino/Latina. They are followed, near or below 10 percent, by country of origin and country of origin plus American, such as Mexican American.
I have, however, seen businesses “jump the bandwagon” and start using Latinx in their marketing materials. Do I think they should stop? Probably not. What terms the business uses depends on many factors (e.g., young vs. more senior).
So let’s take a look at Webster’s Dictionary of all the identifying terms.
- Hispanic: 1: of, relating to, or being a person of Latin American descent and especially of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin living in the U.S. 2: of or relating to the people, speech, or culture of Spain.
- Latino: 1: a native or inhabitant of Latin America 2: a person of Latin American origin living in the U.S.
- Latinx: : of, relating to, or marked by Latin American heritage —used as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina
- Spanish: 1: the Romance language of the largest part of Spain and of the countries colonized by Spaniards. 2 plural in construction : the people of Spain
Let’s keep in mind that the above terms are widely used in the U.S. only. Ask a Colombian if they’re Latino/Hispanic/etc., they would say no…they are Colombian. Ask a Guatemalan if they’re Latinx, they would say no…they are Guatemalan.
At the end of they day, whatever you identify with is up to the person, it is not meant for anyone else to tell you.