‘A Vicious Cycle’: Spanish-Speaking Leaders Rise In Protest of the Use of ‘Latinx’

Leaders from one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations, politicians, and a major newspaper are speaking out against the use of the term “Latinx,” a gender-neutral term to describe people of Spanish-speaking origin. Many advocating the abandonment of the word’s use said that the term has been “imposed and it’s not organic.”

Axios describes a split along sociological lines such as class, generation, and region that influences how people of Latin heritage feel about the term.

Developed within academic and social media spaces, the term Latinx was created to express gender-neutrality and LGBTQIA+ inclusivity in the Hispanic and Latin communities. 

María R. Scharrón-del Río, a professor of psychology at Brooklyn College says, “The term was coined within queer Internet groups. That was where it was used first and foremost.”

However, despite the push by many to shift the theory of inclusive nomenclature, many in the community remain resistant.

One act of resistance implemented by political and community organizations is to mandate their staff not to stop using the word in correspondence and make the announcement public.

U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego (Credit: Flickr/Gage Skidmore )

Former Marine and First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), tweeted out in December that his staff will no longer use the descriptor in any formal communications from his office.

“To be clear, my office is not allowed to use ‘Latinx’ in official communications,” he wrote. “When Latino politicos use the term it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use. 

“It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias.”

Gallego, in addition to identifying as Latino, is a second-generation American with a Colombian mother and a Mexican father. He also serves as chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States, vice chair and tribal liaison of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and vice chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus — representing communities that the Latinx term is said to have been created to represent. 

Domingo García, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization, also told his staff that they would not be using the term anymore, NBC News reports. 

On Dec. 8, he sent an email to Sindy Benavides, the league’s CEO; David Cruz, its communications director; and the LULAC board, saying, “Let’s stop using Latinx in all official communications.” In the note, he included a Miami Herald op-ed headlined, “The ‘Latinx community’ doesn’t want to be called ‘Latinx.’ Just drop it, progressives.”

“The reality is, there is very little to no support for its use, and it’s sort of seen as something used inside the Beltway or in Ivy League tower settings,” Garcia noted in an interview with NBC. 

He continued, “I don’t know of any Abuelita [grandmother] that calls her granddaughter, ‘Hey, you Latinx, I’m going to throw you the chancla [flip-flop].’ It just doesn’t happen.”

Research conducted in November by a Miami-based Democratic firm focusing on Latinos, Bendixen & Amandi International, proves this right. Two percent of the Spanish-speaking population that participated in its poll identified as Latinx, while 68 percent identified as Hispanic and 21 percent go by the term Latino/Latinas.

The year prior, a 2020 Pew Research Center study found that 23 percent of U.S. adults who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino had heard of the term Latinx and that only 3 percent used it to identify themselves.

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