feature image via la flama
The term Latinxs began popping up on my tumblr feed about a year ago. At first, I ignored it. The onslaught of new queer terminology while necessary, radical and exciting, often exhausts me. It’s like, I know I have to learn about and embrace this new thing to keep up with my people but I just picked up five new terms last week. Can I get a moment to breathe?
But that’s just me and my cis-privilege keeping me from embracing things that don’t apply to my identity, know what I’m saying?
And, Latinxs didn’t go away. I saw it being used by more Afro-Latina/Latina centric, queer-ish blogs that I love. It’s staying power and something about that X made me want to learn more about it.
Where did it come from? What does it mean? Can Spanish be gender-neutral? What would my grandma think of a gender-neutral term for Latinos?
The more I read about it, the more sense it made and I felt that pride in my people. Like, way to push the boundaries of a language in order to place yourself and your needs at the center. Put that X in there and let them know you exist. Use that X as a beacon for all those who identify and feel similary. Here we are. You are not alone, you know?
As much as I read about Latinxs, I couldn’t fully grasp how to explain its usage to others or the importance of it, until this response piece from the news site, Latino Rebels. The Case FOR ‘Latinx’: Why Intersectionality Is Not a Choice written by María R. Scharrón-del Río and Alan A. Aja offers a fierce take down of a piece published by The Phoenix, Swarthmore’s indie newspaper. Their piece is literally “An Argument Against the Use of The Term ‘Latinx, which includes such gems as:
- It excludes any older Spanish speakers who have been speaking Spanish for more than 40 years and would struggle to adapt to such a radical change.
- If you take the gender out of every word, you are no longer speaking Spanish.
The Latino Rebels piece “The Case FOR ‘Latinx’: Why Intersectionality Is Not a Choice” dissects major flaws in the Swarthmore authors arguments which include the inability to comprehend the need for gender-neutral language, among other things.
Highlights from the Latino Rebels piece made me raise my brown fist to the sky, like yes, let’s do this and have these conversations! Why not queer up/reclaim the Spanish language?
- “…indigenous languages in Latin America (and throughout the world) range from the genderless to the multigendered, going beyond the binary. This is another instance in which Guerra and Orbea, while claiming to denounce imperialism, actually fall into one of the markers of colonization: the erasure of indigenous history and its cultural legacy.”
- “To change the Spanish language to include others is deemed as a threat to the whole Latinx culture and their identities. This is certainly another symptom of unexamined privilege and internalized colonization. Moreover, it also implies that our Latinx identity is so frail that without protecting the integrity of the language of our colonizers, we risk losing the main instrument of colonization that still binds many of us.”
But before I give away too much of the good, stuff, go read the article. Let the Latino Rebels know what you think and of course, as always, drop your thoughts in the comments here too.
What do you think of the term Latinxs? Do you use it? Did the Latino Rebels do right by the term in their argument?
Here is that link again: