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Latino, Latinx, hispanic. The debate around the use of this words. Photo: Flickr
Latino, Latinx, hispanic. The debate around the use of this words. Photo: Flickr

Latinos or latinx? The debate rages

Only 2% of the Hispanic community uses or identifies with the term Latinx, how does this affect voters?

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Arizona Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego announced via twitter, that his team was prohibited from using the term Latinx in official communications. In the thread, the Hispanic Caucus leader, argues that "When Latino politicos use the term it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use. It's a vicious cycle of confirmation bias." 

The debate was sparked after a survey was unveiled on the perception of the term's use among Latinos in the country. The results are clear, only 2% use Latinx to refer to their ethnicity, while 68% use Hispanic and 21%, Latina/Latino. 

But the survey revealed something else, nearly 40% feel annoyed or offended when hearing Latinx. In this regard, Congressman Gallego pointed out that "So we have already gender neutral options to describe the Latino community. Adding an x and creating a new word comes off as performative."

Although the term was included in Merriam-Webster's dictionary in 2018, it is used by a small portion of Hispanics. In 2020, the Pew Research Center revealed a study showing that although 25% of Latinos have heard the expression, only 2% use it. 

The use of Latinx has spread in recent years especially among the academic community, and members of the LGBTIQ community who advocate for a neutral term. Since 2019, several universities started using the word instead of Latinos or Chicanos, hence critics point out that when politicians make use of the word, they do so to 'look good' to the academic community and 'progressive whites'. 

With all this information, some analysts point out that it is not a good strategy for Democrats to use Latinx, because instead of bringing closer the urban community -which has more liberal tendencies- it would alienate Latinos in rural and suburban areas who do not feel identified by the term. 

So it was not only Gallego who asked his team to avoid using Latinx. Domingo Garcia, president of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), also asked his staff to avoid its use. The reason is simple, although LULAC does not oppose the use of any expression to refer to the community it represents, it should look for a term that most people use on a daily basis. 

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