LatinX: Do You Identify with the Termor Does It Bother You?
Joe Biden recently made some comments regarding COVID vaccinations among the Hispanic community. He used the term ‘LatinX’ which, according to some news reports, sparked outrage across the Twitterverse. That shouldn’t be surprising in this era of identity politics. But politics aside, is LatinXa term you identify with, or does it bother you?
Hollywood Insider’s Anna Cobo wrote a compelling piece in early July 2021 explaining the whole dustup with Biden. She explained why the term bothers so many. Cobo even went so far as to explain that the vast majority of Hispanics neither use the term nor know what it means. If that is true, how did it end up in the president’s vocabulary?
No One Knows Its Origins
The thing about the term is that its origins are unknown. Cobo claims that its first use was somewhere around 2004. The generally held theory is that the term was developed as a gender-neutral alternative to ‘Latino’ and ‘Latina’. But in the end, Cobo admits that nobody knows for sure where it came from.
If less than 3% of the Hispanic population in the U.S. even uses the term, as Cobo claims in her piece, then why can you run a search of internet news and find it used so frequently? There is an easy answer to that question, but this post will not get into it. You figure that one out for yourself. The point here is that the term offends some people, is completely immaterial to others, and sparks just about every reaction in between.
Using the Term Proudly
Despite the confusion and disagreement, there are some individuals and businesses who use the LatinX term proudly. New York City-based Plurawl is a good example. Plurawl sells T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, and LatinXart canvas boasting culturally relevant messages for the Hispanic community.
The company was founded by an individual who long felt that he was not free to be who he was as a Hispanic. He decided he wanted to start a clothing line that proudly portrayed Hispanic culture. Visit the Plurawl website and you’ll see that the company uses the ‘LatinX’ as inclusive for the entire Hispanic community.
It would hardly seem that Plurawl’s use of the term is slanderous or insulting. In fact, one look at their site and product line clearly demonstrates a positive image for all things Hispanic. You would be hard-pressed to oppose what they are doing from a cultural standpoint.
Dead Set Against It
On the other side are those who are dead set against the term. Cobo counts herself among those in that camp. She is also against the terms ‘Latina’ and ‘Latino’. From her perspective, all three terms denote “an idea” rather than “part of a community.” Her sentiments are understandable in the sense that using any three of the terms puts the focus on her ethnicity rather than the fact that she is a greater part of the American community.
Come to think of it, any and all ethnic terms do the same thing. Whether it is ‘Asian American’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘African-American’ or even ‘white European’, the terms classify us along ethnic lines. They do nothing to unite. By their nature, they only divide.
All Plurawl wants to do is sell T-shirts and hoodies to the Hispanic community. Joe Biden was making a political speech. The two are entirely different. Perhaps that’s where the answer lies. Maybe it’s the intent behind the term and who uses it that really counts. Then again, perhaps this post is way off base. That is ultimately for you to decide.