Hispanic, Latino or Latinx: A new debate
Political correctness isn’t essential even for younger Latinos, though activists and politicians do insist on using the term. Why is it bothering us so much?
Ever since the word “Latinx” started being popular at the beginning of 2000 among university students and Internet users, it has been used to refer to this community beyond the gender binarism, making the effort on being as representative as possible. Mainly, when the intersectional feminism and fluid identity penetrate U.S. society.
Despite the efforts of Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren or Beto O’Rourke’s on being more inclusive, 98% of Latino citizens in the States –almost 52 million people- don’t assume “Latinx” with an “x.”
According to a national survey conducted by the firm ThinkNow, most Latinos prefer their ethnicity to be depicted as “Hispanic” (44%), Latino (22%) or even by their country of origin (11%), as it happens in some places in Latin America where the word “Latinx” isn’t as common as in the U.S.
And to a lesser extent, there are people who choose their country’s name followed by “American” or “Chicano.”
A quick search on the Internet reveals more than 18 million results for the word “Latinx”: media headlines, political mottos, and speeches; t-shirts quotes, books, university courses, and seminars. And it is always used to show gender neutrality - apparently, a victory for feminist and LGTB struggles over the heteropatriarchal language.
Although some might think the young generation – born in a more egalitarian and respectful society – would feel more comfortable with the generic “x”, it seems that only 3% of young people between 18 and 34 want to be referred to as “Latinx”. Why do Millenial and Gen Z dislike using inclusive language in the U.S?
According to the Internet anthropologist Angela Nagle, author of the essay “Kill The Normies” (Zero Books, 2017), along with the conversion of the feminism in mainstream culture, the alt-right movements have known better than the left-hand how to use social networks, meme, and forums to attract the young generations. Meanwhile, progressists suffer from online “puritanism” and “elitism”, she says.
Could young people be tired of being told how they MUST express themselves?
Nagle states that what we call “alt-right” is actually a collection of separated trends that came together when the politics against correctness broke into cultural wars on the Internet.
She adds that these movements born in a virtual world are prone to use a transgressive and “dirty” tone that is more catching and ends up affecting the non-virtual reality.
Could young people be tired of being said how they MUST express themselves? Has it failed the intersectional and LGTB movement on communicating values to the new generations?
However, exclusive and binarist language has its risks and it seems that other countries are more aware than the U.S. that the way we name ourselves eventually defines us, and could even erase an entire community.
In places such as Argentina or Spain, social movements have succeeded in joining Millenial and Gen Z in their fights for a non-binary culture. They suggest not only the use of “x” but “e” at the end of words in Spanish.
Despite the more traditional part of society assures these changes are wrong and degrade the mother tongue, but it’s undeniable that language is politics and since we cannot name what doesn’t exist, silencing is the faster way to make something disappear – both politically and socially.