What is the term “Latinx” and why is it polarizing?

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Is Latinx an accepted term to describe the Hispanic population of the country or a term that might put off potential voters? It depends on who you ask.

A recent national survey by business management consultancy Bendixen & Amandi International of 800 registered voters of Hispanic origin highlighted the term by showing the mixed reaction towards it.

The poll, completed last month, found that 40% of those polled said the term bothers or offends them, and 30% said they would be less likely to vote for a politician who uses it.

Here’s what you need to know about the term polarizing.

What does Latinx mean and how is it pronounced?

Latinx has generally been used since the beginning of the 2010s as a gender-neutral term for members of Latin American or Hispanic communities instead of gendered terms like Latino or Latina. Names in Spanish usually end with an “o” for masculine words and an “a” for feminine words.

Latinx has become particularly adopted by members of the LGBTQ community who may not want to be identified by a specific gender. The term became more widely used in 2016 after the mass shooting at LGBTQ Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

There is also some confusion over how the term is pronounced. Merriam-Webster Dictionary says it’s pronounced “luh-TEE-neks”, but it’s also frequently pronounced “Latin-ex”, with “Lah-tinks” as another pronunciation, according to the Latin American cultural site Remezcla.

Non-binary actor Vico Ortiz spoke to TODAY for Hispanic Heritage Month in September about pushing for more inclusive terms in Spanish to refer to LGBTQ Latinx people.

“In Latin America, there has been a lot of progress around gay and lesbian identities,” Ortiz said. “But being transgender and non-binary, a lot of people still don’t know what this all means, and I think it relates to the words we use.

“The Spanish language is incredibly binary and it informs the way we see the world,” Ortiz continued. “The language is very male-centric and everything else is treated like any other. I use neutral pronouns to include and honor everyone and draw attention to how this gendered language has made its mark. possible to erase people. “

The term was added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2018, because it became widespread.

How much is it used?

The Bendixen & Amandi International poll found that only 2% of those polled called themselves Latinx, compared to 68% who used the term Hispanic and 21% who used the term Latin or Latina.

“The numbers strongly suggest that the use of this term may actually be counterproductive, as opposed to productive, as only 2% of Hispanic voters adopt the term nationally,” said Fernand Amandi, director of the ‘business, NBC News.

A 2019 bilingual survey of Hispanic American adults conducted by Pew Research Center found that only 23% of American adults who identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard of the term Latinx, and only 3% say they use it to describe themselves.

The term has primarily been used by academics, activists and the younger generation, particularly Hispanic women between the ages of 18 and 29, according to Pew. It has also been adopted by the LGBTQ community.

“We are making a conscious choice to show that we exist by disrupting this language,” Ortiz said TODAY in September. “We have always existed. This is why we keep appearing. The language is alive and it is evolving. Language is there to express who we are. We don’t speak the same language 50, 100 or 200 years ago. Every word we have is made up, so we’ll mess it up and invent something that is inclusive for everyone. “

Finding a comprehensive term can be a challenge. Former TODAY co-host Natalie Morales explained in September how she had been told in her life that she was alternately “not Latin enough” or not white enough. Morales is half Brazilian and half Puerto Rican.

“When someone says – depending on my skin color or whether I don’t have an accent when I speak English – that I’m not Latin or Hispanic enough, I always say, ‘What’s your definition of what a Latinx person is supposed to be? ‘ Morales said. “From Mexico to the Caribbean to Central and South America, Hispanic and Latin labels are so broad and encompass many intermediaries, but that makes us part of that community nonetheless. It doesn’t even matter whether we speak Spanish or not, as many of us were taught by our immigrant parents to assimilate and blend in culturally. ”

What is the difference between Latinx and Hispanic?

Latinx is a term popularized by academics, activists, and the LGBTQ community, while Hispanic is a term formalized by the US government.

A group of Spanish-speaking federal employees of the Ad Hoc Committee on Racial and Ethnic Definitions chose the word “Hispanic” in 1975 to represent people of mixed Spanish descent, according to The Washington Post.

The word first appeared on census forms in 1980 after a debate over whether to use Hispanic or Latin as a designated term.

Hispanic derives from Hispana, which means descended from the Spanish people. Some people prefer the term Latin, which refers to the Latin-based languages ​​of Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal, as Hispanic has a connotation of the imperial conquests of Spain. Hispanic also does not include Brazilians, for example, who speak Portuguese.

Why is Latinx important politically?

Amandi suggests his poll results mean the term could be a drag on a significant number of voters.

“Up to 40% say that term bothers or offends them, which I think suggests the potential costs outweigh the benefits,” he told NBC News.

Findings raise question whether the Latinx term could alienate potential voters as Republicans fight for a growing share of the Hispanic vote while Democrats aim to recapture the gains made among Hispanic voters by Republicans in the 2020 election in battlefield states like Texas and Florida.

The term was not widely discussed in debates leading up to the 2020 election in which former President Donald Trump gained 8 percentage points among Latino voters compared to the 2016 election. Issues like the pandemic and the Immigration featured much more in the countryside than any mention of the term Latinx.

The use of Latinx may also depend on the difference between reaching out to an older audience unresponsive to the term and younger voters who are more comfortable with the term.

“Just because you are trying to be inclusive with one side doesn’t necessarily mean you alienate another,” said Angelica Luna-Kaufman, senior executive of the Texas Democratic Party. MSNBC.

A editorial in the Miami Herald, which serves a large Latin American community, called for the term to be abandoned by progressives.

“Whenever a Democratic politician uses the term, a famous Republican agent,” the editorial read. “That’s just what the GOP needs to make the case that Democrats are too busy being ‘awake’ to worry about the concerns of Americans’ daily lives.”


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