What does the “Latinx” term mean and why do people use it?

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A survey by the  Pew Research Center shows that about 3 percent of people use the term “Latinx” as an alternative to describe the nation’s Hispanic population. Horizonte’s Jose Cardenas talked to Megan Figueroa at the U of A’s Psychology Department about why the term is stirring up debate. 

Where did the term “Latinx” originate and why?

“When we use terms like “Latino” or “Latina”, “Chicano” or “Chicana,” we again use this “O” and this “A”, and it’s  stuck in this gender binary. Either replacing feminine or masculine endings. So the “X”, and sometimes an “E” now is used to kind of get rid of that problem for people who don’t identify with either gender, or who don’t want to you know maybe boxed themselves in to a specific gender, and who wants to be inclusive of other people perhaps that feel the same way, and they don’t know how these people identify so they don’t want to make any assumptions,” Figueroa said.

“I personally don’t like the term Hispanic so I don’t use it for myself, I think, you know, just that kind of implies that we’re all Spanish speaking but we are not. I’m okay as Latina at this point. That might change in my lifetime, but you can always, if someone says ‘Now can you please call me Chicano’ that’s okay then you know, we don’t have to kind of collapse all of our identities,” Figueroa said.

There are some complaints in communities that this term would change the meaning of certain Spanish speaking words, but Figueroa urges people that, “Spanish is not being ruined, language changes and that’s okay.

Megan Figueroa, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, UArizona

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