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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: Latinx and extraneous acts of activism

The+mural+drawn+outside+the+Multicultural+services+office+in+the+Memorial+Student+Center.
Photo by Ebba Turi

The mural drawn outside the Multicultural services office in the Memorial Student Center.

The first time I heard the word “Latinx” was in 2017 during my lunch break in high school with my hyper-political speech and debate team. While they regurgitated an array of political jargon off their phones, Latinx managed to leap out like a jumpscare in a James Wan film. 

At first, I thought we were taking a break from our pseudo-intellectual debates, and figured we were referring to a classmate’s SoundCloud pseudonym.

Spoiler. Latinx is not a SoundCloud rapper. 

To my surprise, I learned through my friends that Latinx was a relatively new term that political progressives in the United States were using when referring to Latin Americans. 

As someone who grew up in Laredo, a small border town with 95.5% of its population being Hispanic and Latino, I was even more surprised that I had never even heard of the word my entire life.

After realizing that Latinx was not a musical artist, my next thought was: Why the “X”? 

Latinx purposely excludes the masculine “O” and feminine “A” replacing it with a gender-neutral “X” in order to dismantle Spanish’s gendered grammatical traditions. 

It sounded dumb. 

Just as quickly as the words were spoken, so was its impact on my life. I wouldn’t hear the term until years later in college.

Coming to Texas A&M, I decided to learn about my cultural identity as a minority and connect with the discourse surrounding my culture. Just as I began to explore what it means to be a Latina, the word Latinx popped out in emails, diversity statements and national television. 

A sign from the universe? 

It was time to reevaluate this Latinx word again. And I did, pouring blood, sweat and tears into this new moral quandary that plagued my consciousness. After traversing an arduous journey of knowledge, I came to an amazing discovery: 

Latinx is still dumb. 

To clarify, on an individual level everyone has the right to request how they want to identify themselves. We must all respect those who simply do not wish to be identified with certain labels. 

But when I hear Latinx being used to identify an entire community, that’s when I question the merits of this change. 

While the word Latinx is meant to improve the Latino community in America, ultimately, it is another form of disingenuous progressivism, a lack of understanding behind Latino culture and an ineffective means of trying to promote inclusivity. 

The term’s shortcomings start to show when looking at its failure to gain traction in Hispanic communities.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, overall, only 23% of Latinos have ever heard of the word with only 3% actually using it. Even the demographic with the highest percentage of having heard the word Latinx, an overwhelming minority actually use the word, with only seven percent doing so.

Another study conducted by the Democratic consulting firm Bendixen & Amondi even found that 40% of Latinos found Latinx either bothersome or offensive to some degree. 

Fundamentally, Latinx is so unpopular because it is clearly not influenced by elements of Spanish, but rather English used by American internet forums, academia and politics. It’s a concoction devised by a chronically online and politically engaged minority. Unsurprisingly, the qualities of the Latino culture as a whole have been ignored. 

Take that diabolical “X”, for instance. It is hardly ever used in Spanish. Using it would imply that the proper way to refer to Latinos is to use a letter that is more popular in English and not really used in Spanish. 

Got it. 

While some Latino vie for the word Latine, to adhere to Spanish pronunciation, this still addresses a non-existent problem. 

Besides being unpopular, borderline offensive and not adhering to Spanish, Latinx is also just redundant. 

Latino is already a gender neutral term. 

In Spanish, while the “O” usually denotes a masculine-gendered term, which also doesn’t necessarily relate to exclusively gender either since inanimate objects have feminine and masculine terms, when there are groups of objects or people, the word denoting them must end with a masculine term, regardless of the sex or gender. 

This leads to another reason why some Latinos vie for the word Latine because it apparently strays away from the patriarchal origins behind Spanish. However, the entire Latin language family is structured with the masculine “O” involving groups, so this complaint would lead to the entire Latin language family having to be restructured if people really want to be genuine with their complaint. Another whole, time-consuming can of worms. 

And while language is fluid, it is important to take into account the whole community this language affects, and data doesn’t indicate Latinos are too keen on using another word.

Just use Latinos. 

Even in English, the phrase Latin American is a perfectly acceptable term that is very much gender-neutral when referring to Latinos. 

All in all, Latinx is only another “solution” to a made up issue to boost the self esteem of the ‘Holier Than Thou’ community, those who love to keep up appearances but fail to act when the time comes to resolve real issues regarding the Latino community. 

So when I see Joe Biden using Latinx on public television instead of actually resolving issues regarding the border crisis, educational disparity and a plethora of other issues, I just want him and others using the word to know that they better be addressing a SoundCloud rapper instead of the Latino community. 

Lilia Elizondo is an English senior and opinion writer for The Battalion. 

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