A Word on “Latinos” or “Latinx”

Are you trying to do the right thing but something doesn’t feel right when using either term “Latinos” or “Latinx”?*

This can happen when we simply adopt what we are told is “correct” without really questioning and understanding for ourselves.

It can also happen when what we are told is the “right thing” doesn’t reconcile with what we feel is the “right thing.”

😣 It’s a cognitive dissonance of sorts.

”I’m told it’s right but it just feels wrong” or “I’m told it’s wrong but it just feels right.”

If this feels familiar, consider this:

▪️In Spanish, “la gente” is feminine, and it means all people.

▪️In Spanish, “Latinos” is masculine, and it means all Latinos.

▪️In Spanish, “la gente Latina” and “los Latinos” are completely synonymous, referring to all Latinos irrespective of gender.

The decision on which term to use when referring to people from Latin America or of Latin American descent is yours.

👩🏻 As a native Spanish speaker, I use the term “Latinos.”**

When borrowing terms from another language, it’s important to recognize and understand the context.

That’s one aspect of respecting culture and its language, while thinking for ourselves in the process.***

❓Are there other terms you feel you should adopt or drop without fully understanding why?

*Many people, including Latinos, have a quiet sense that by not using the term Latinx, they will somehow be judged.

**I do not use the term Latinx, no one I know among family, friends, colleagues, etc. who are native Spanish speakers use it, and the percentage of Latinos both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. who use the term Latinx remains extremely low. But don’t just take my word for it. Ask. Ask other Latinos. Listen to the members of the Latino community we are trying to be inclusive towards. Let’s not just assume because some people say so.

***It takes time to adapt to new terminology, such as firefighters instead of firemen, flight attendants instead of stewardesses, and servers instead of waitresses and waiters. But adopting a term on behalf of a culture or population that by a huge majority does not accept the term has a different feel. And accepting anything on faith or fear alone – faith that the people telling us what to say must be correct, or fear of judgment and consequences if we don’t comply – can have very bad consequences. But thinking through and reaching our own understanding as to why we adopt something, if we choose to, goes a long way in furthering inclusion goals AND feeling good about it along the way!

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