Just when you though that we have moved past the whole “Latino,” “Hispanic,” and “Latinx” debate (seriously, where was everyone four years ago about this topic), a November 1 Medium post written by Mario Carrasco of ThinkNow Research published the results of a poll which asked 508 U.S. Latinos how they prefer to self-identify. According to Carrasco and his team, here were the results:
As Carrasco writes: “We presented our respondents with seven of the most common terms used to describe Latinos and asked them to select the one that best describes them. When it came to “Latinx,” there was near unanimity. Despite its usage by academics and cultural influencers, 98% of Latinos prefer other terms to describe their ethnicity. Only 2% of our respondents said the label accurately describes them, making it the least popular ethnic label among Latinos.”
(FYI, the poll has a ± 5% margin of error with a 95% confidence interval, meaning that the 2% can be -5% or 7%. It also said that it has age breakdowns The post also said this: Only 3% of 18–34 year-old respondents in our poll selected the term as their preferred ethnic label. This was roughly the same as the 2% of 35–49 year-olds. No respondents over 50 selected the term. In other words, 97% of millennial and Gen-Z Latinos prefer to be called something other than “Latinx.” Meanwhile, only 3% of women and 1% of men selected the term as their preferred ethnic identifier.)
Now, it seems everyone —especially people in the right-wing media and conservative non-Latino New York Times columnists— are taking this new data (a rare poll conducted by a marketing agency in the interest of making money for clients) as the gospel truth that American progressives are so out of touch with the U.S. Latino community.
That is the wrong question to ask here.
In fact, if people were really interested in this debate (like REALLY interested), they would note that it has a history, one that is organic and real, and which stems from the very same community that companies and politicians and non-Latino pundits claim to be experts of.
For those who embrace the term, there are those who reject it. And some will reject it for reasons you might not expect. There is some myth out there that the use of Latinx is a massive imposition coming from outside activist forces descending on a unsuspecting populace. It’s quite the opposite. The term is supposed to challenge your conventional thinking, raising the issues of inclusion and not exclusion. It is supposed to question how messy self-identification within the U.S. Latino community really is. And, more importantly, while we as community allow ourselves to get sucked into a debate that will just divide and conquer us, there are bigger issues to address. It’s pretty clear that in the end, those who cry “political correctness” and the “liberal police” will want us to focus on this debate and completely ignore the harsh realities of living under a white supremacist administration that continues to disparage, demean and detain Latinos.
What we should be applauding is how people in our community have continued a legacy of questioning what is in front of them right now. And if you don’t want to self-identify as such, just don’t. Nobody is stopping you. (Just take the case of our own site’s name: Just because we call ourselves Latino Rebels doesn’t mean that we will blindly ignore and diminish how someone wants to self-identify.) What really needs to stop, however, is this notion that a term grounded in Latin American linguistic history is suddenly a political affront to the U.S. Latino community. We would argue that a term like “Hispanic” was truly imposed on our communities, more so than any other one. And if we were to follow the current poll cited above, it looks like the federal government and Spanish-language networks of the early 80s did a fantastic job forcing that one on us all.
In addition, taking one poll and listing it is a gold standard is also a mistake. A poll of 508 Latinos broken down by age isn’t that big of a poll, so maybe this is an opportunity to expand the research on this before sweeping conclusions get made. (How about a poll of 508 Latinos under 30?) We have always told any political campaign or company interested that they should know their audience: the use of “Latinx” skews young and urban and college-educated and politically engaged. Those aren’t traits you should just dismiss, but at the same time, understand the complexities. Because trust us, if you say “Hispanic” these days, you are stuck in 1982.
So spare us the conservative think pieces and hot takes suddenly sprouting out now because a couple of Democratic candidates have used the term “Latinx” once or twice. At least they are acknowledging that identity in the U.S. Latino community is complex and messy as hell. But our connected community knew that already, and keeping this debate simplistic and solely tied to brands, political campaigns and conservative skeptics, as much as U.S. media wants it to be like that, will never be the outcome.
We the community will own the narrative, not those who want to enable it for their own interests.
UPDATE, November 5, 10:05 a.m. ET
We were able to download the official report from ThinkNow to determine age breakdown and here is what the survey listed.
About 102 participants were listed 18-24. In addition, the poll skews more Spanish-speaking and leans way more West and South. It is also more foreign-born.
[…] Reporting on the survey, Latino Rebels wrote Tuesday, “There is some myth out there that the use of Latinx is a massive imposition coming from outside acti…. […]
I don’t think this should be a surprise – it’s a term created BY and FOR nonbinary trans people within the community who don’t think other terms (which tend to be heavily gendered) reflect us. Considering trans folks are 2% or less of the population at large, this makes sense? I don’t think a lot of the people pushing back against the term understand where it came from or why some of us use it.
Latinx comes across as pc, from the educated elite. It’s also clumsy on the tongue, and where does it all stop? Bomberx, maestrx, enfermerx? Amigx? ¿Estás listx? Getting rid of the gender at the end of words doesn’t change thinking around trans people, doesn’t get rid of prejudice, and imho, just engenders (no pun intended) irritation with a very small percentage of the population having the power of changing the language.
And women, who’ve been disappeared in Spanish since the language started, aren’t positively affected by this. I don’t see anybody fighting things like “las esposas” for handcuffs. We’re half the population but not the pc cause du jour, so we’re still ignored, as usual.
Latinx sounds very natural to me. I think part of people’s differing opinions might be different dialects. “X” is very common in Mexican Spanish so saying “Latin-ex” rolls of the tongue quite easily.
If you don’t like things like “las esposas” for handcuffs, why not fight them? It’s not like doing one thing prevents the other or like anyone is trying to force everyone to use the term. I can not say the n word AND fight bad voting laws designed to disenfranchise black and latinx people. Just because one thing has a more direct impact doesn’t mean doing it prevents me from doing the other.
The whole population has the power to change a language. That’s why in Mexican Spanish we have many words that aren’t in the Spain Spanish dictionary like “Mija”. My Puerto Rican friend will reference the royal Spanish dictionary and I’ve never understood why. We each have our own dialect and our own words and our own accents and they are correct whether or not they are recognized by our former colonists. But if someone else wants to reference the Spain Spanish dictionary to decide what words *they* will use, that’s fine. As long as they don’t use it to try to delegitimize *my* Spanish.
People have this tendency to make everything adversarial. There’s no reason multiple things can’t exist at once. Some people using the term “Latinx” in an attempt to be more inclusive doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights.
It doesn’t. Not only it sounds dumb, but it makes no sense whatsoever, you say Latin-ex here in México and people will think it’s some sort of variant of Kleenex. Latin-ex is a teenager’s poor attempt at being “inclusive”, like most SJW and PC people, and worst of all, it literally sound like something latinos living in the US will come up with, meaning latinos will never accept it because its clearly influenced by american ideology. Ironic that you find it weird that your Puerto Rican friend will reference the Spanish dictionary, obviously trying to say that we shouldn’t be tied to what our former colonist believe how Spanish should be spoke (despite the fact that they made it in the first place), yet you wanna use a term that originated in the US and clearly influenced by its culture like if it was part of the Latin American lexicon. What a joke.
Agreed, while I support the right of all people to choose how they wish to be referred to, Latinx is just not the inclusive umbrella term that needs to exist for people of Latin descent in America, and most certainly will never gain wider acceptance in actual Spanish speaking countries. Simply put the “Anglicizing” our language by de-gendering it, and doing so in grammatically awkward way (that honestly could be the name of Miami strip club) just smacks of typical American CULTURAL IMPERIALISM. Again if LGBTQ people of Latin descent wish to be called that I fully support it, but as a native speaker of Spanish their is no way to get around the obvious negation of our language. In English their are a number of terms that are gender-less and inclusive; Hispanic(most popular though also considered an imposed term by many), Latin American, Latin person, or even just Latin.
[…] “Now, it seems everyone—especially people in the right-wing media and conservative non-Latino New York Times columnists—are taking this new data (a rare poll conducted by a marketing agency in the interest of making money for clients) as the gospel truth that American progressives are so out of touch with the U.S. Latino community,” they write in this opinion piece. […]
Words are use according to the definition, some words have only one definition like Latinx. A term created BY and FOR nonbinary trans people. Dictionary definition: A person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina). We Latinos don’t tag each other with this word.
The noun Latinos includes everyone both male and female and it’s not about sex preference. This is how language evolved.
Therefore the term LatinX is not inclusive of all Latinos according according to its definition and attempts to discredit a culture. Our culture is our identity, Identity is not only about sex. Heres is an example of identity:
In his autobiography, Malcolm X explained that the “X” symbolized the true African family name that he could never know. “For me, my ‘X’ replaced the white slavemaster name of ‘Little’ which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears.” This describes identity as whole and not only sex.
Using this term is not a way to validate a group or an agenda. The real purpose for the use of this word is about important people in the political arena, wanting to influence others’ attitudes or behavior.
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