Latinx, Latino, Hispanic: Defining a community in several terms with different meanings

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CHICAGO (WLS) – ABC 7 Eyewitness News celebrates what has become Hispanic Heritage Month, but not everyone in this community identifies as Hispanic.

Over the past decades, the way of describing this diverse community has evolved from Hispanic to Latino, and more recently to Latinx. But is there a correct term? Not exactly.

Dr. Lourdes Torres is Professor of Latin American and Latin American Studies at DePaul University

“I tend to go back and forth. I’m not a purist or an extremist on terms,” Torres said. “In my speech and in my writing I tend to use all kinds of variations and sometimes I will use Hispanic – oh my gosh.”

Torres said it was difficult to describe an entire diverse community with one term.

“I don’t think we’ll ever come to a consensus that will make everyone happy and that’s okay. What we’re seeing so far is that most Latinos identify with their national term, not the pan-ethnic term, it tends to be situational, “Torres says.

The way we describe this multi-faceted community has changed over the years. Hispanic Heritage Week was created in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson, making Hispanic the preferred term for decades. But because some associate the word Hispanic with colonialism, Latinos and Latinos became popular in the 1990s.

Latinx was first used in the early 2000s.

“Nobody proposed – a real one, everyone agrees on this etymology – but I understand that it first appeared on the Internet and that it was introduced by young Latinx homosexuals”, Torres said. “They started using that term, and it was picked up by other groups, it was picked up in academia, it was picked up by activists.”

Antonio Santos identifies as a first generation queer Latinx. He is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Gage Park Latinx Council, a non-profit organization that serves the community through art, education, social justice and caring.

“I saw Latinx as a way to provoke and make my queer identity visible,” Santos said. “I think everyone has the power to describe themselves and I think any way of identifying is fine for you. The problem arises when other people try to tell people how they can or cannot identify yourself, an invalid term says that someone’s identity is not valid, and that’s problematic.

“Personally, I don’t identify with the term Latinx, just because I don’t think it reflects who I am. I think it’s an attempt to anglicize who I am. I think it erases my roots. personal and my background, ”the community said. lawyer and photojournalist Mateo Zapata.

Zapata identifies an Afro-Colombian and a Latino.

“I don’t have a single friend that I grew up with on the South Side of Chicago who identifies with this term. It’s just real,” Zapata said.

Despite a finding from the Pew Research Center in August last year that only three percent of Latinos use Latinx, the term continues to gain traction.

Santos said he wouldn’t be offended if someone called him Latino – but he says on some levels that it assumes gender identity.

“So what we do know is that we’re not supposed to assume people’s gender identity, so Latinx is a more respectful term unless you know for sure that they want to be identified as Latino or Latina, ”Santos said.

“What it’s worth is forcing ourselves to think about who we’re excluding, who we’re including because of this, that’s an important debate,” Torres said.

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