Using ‘Latinx’ Makes Us More Inclusive, but It’s Just the Beginning
If you aren’t already aware, “Latinx” is a term used to foster inclusivity among Latin Americans. The goal is to eliminate the sole use of the identifiers “Latino” and “Latina” to acknowledge all gender expressions. While the word isn’t new — its usage dates back to 2004 — its popularity has soared over the last couple of years.
In 2017, Mitú posted a video praising “Latinx” for overcoming the gender bias inherent in the Spanish language — since masculine grammar becomes the default, the word challenges the patriarchy by stripping away that default masculinity. But the overwhelming majority of the video’s comments condemn the word, arguing that it inherently excludes native Spanish speakers, as they aren’t privy to the American nuances of gender politics.
Are we ready to call up Abuelita to let her know that she’s aiding and abetting the patriarchy for not complying with millennial diction?
It’s a fair point. Just because Spanish is a gendered language doesn’t mean it’s gendered out of malice. Are we ready to call up Abuelita to let her know she’s aiding and abetting the patriarchy for not complying with millennial diction? It does little to change the minds of those in our home countries if the first move is to tell family and friends their language is wrong.
I support the goal behind “Latinx” — the last thing I want to be is dismissive of others’ identities. But to accomplish the social reform the word seeks to inspire, we need to communicate in a way that reaches the most people. Trying to turn an inherently gendered language into a gender-neutral one is nothing more than a cosmetic Band-Aid on a larger cultural problem.
Language is vital, and the words we choose matter. If the usage of “Latinx” over “Latino/a” is the difference between someone’s happiness or misery, then, by all means, shout “Latinx!” from the rooftops — but just because the words change doesn’t mean our reality does. To dispel the harmful and pervasive gender narratives in Latin American culture, we need to go to the root of the…