Labels matter, and nowhere have we seen more examples of this over the centuries than in the controversies used to describe racial and ethnic groups. A recent example was provided by an article on the Axios news site earlier this week. The review summarized the controversies surrounding the use of the “Latinx” label to describe people of Hispanic, Latino and Spanish descent. The article, titled “Latino Groups Want to Do Away with ‘Latinx'”, reviewed pushback on the use of the term in several different quarters.
Axios noted the announcement by the first vice president of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona, that his office was “not permitted to use ‘Latinux’ in official communications.” Gallego noted, “When Latino politicians use the term, it is largely to appease white wealthy progressives who think it is the term we use. It is a form of confirmation bias.” There’s a vicious circle.” League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) president Domingo García announced in December that his organization would stop using “Latinux”, adding, “the reality is that there is little or no support for its use”. And it’s seen as something to be used inside. Beltway or Ivy League tower settings.” And, citing the controversy, Hispanic columnist ngel Eduardo called the use of the term “lexical imperialism”, adding that it is “almost exclusively a way of indicating a particular ideological leaning.”
the opinion of the people actually involved
One of the central threads in criticism of the use of “Latinx” is the evidence to measure the opinion of rank-and-file Hispanic Americans themselves. These data suggest that relatively few Hispanic adults have even heard of the term, and that very few have shown interest in using it to describe their ethnicity.
My colleagues Justin McCarthy and Whitney Dupree reviewed Gallup’s research last summer. Only 4% of Hispanic Americans surveyed by Gallup preferred “Latinx” as the label of choice for describing their ethnic group. The majority (57%) said that a choice between “Hispanic,” “Latino,” “Latinx” or another word didn’t matter to them, while another 23% preferred “Hispanic” and 15% did not. Preferred “Latino”. These results were very similar to a Gallup survey conducted in 2013.
Hispanic Americans’ preferred term for their ethnic subgroup
The terms “Hispanic,” “Latino” and “Latinx” are used to refer to this ethnic subgroup of Americans. Which word do you think should be used more generally – Hispanic, Latino, Latinx, another word, or does it matter to you in any way?
|June 1-July 5, 2021|
|Does not matter||57|
A follow-up question asked 57% of Hispanic Americans, who initially said that it didn’t matter to them which word was used if they leaned toward the use of either label. Only 5% of this residual group (equivalent to 3% of all Hispanics) leaned toward the “Latinx” label; Most inclined towards the use of “Hispanic” or “Latino”. Overall, Gallup data shows that more than 7% of Hispanic adults are interested in the use of the word “Latinx”.
These results have been replicated in other surveys. Pew Research reported in 2020 that 76% of Hispanic Americans had not heard of the word “Latinx”, while only 3% reported that they actually used it and 4% said they would describe it to a Hispanic or Latino population. like to use.
origin of controversy
An important aspect of these statistics is the apparent lack of interest among Hispanic Americans in the labels used to describe them, despite the rapid reactions of others. As noted, the majority of Hispanic adults in Gallup’s research say they don’t care which label (out of three tested) is used. By extrapolation, the majority probably don’t care whether “latinux” is used or not. There is a preference for “Hispanic” or “Latino” over “Latinx”, but this does not tell us whether Hispanic Americans actively dislike the term or if it is not preferred. Research by Bendixen and Amandi International in November found that 31% of Hispanic voters say that their use of the word “Latinx” is either deeply disturbing or somewhat disturbing, but it leaves the majority in the indifferent category. gives.
Overall, the extent to which there is a controversy apparently did not arise so much from the bottom up – that is, discontent among the ranks of Hispanic Americans over the labels used to describe them – but rather a controversy developed by thought leaders. and workers from top to bottom.
Context for the Creation of the Word ‘Latinux’
The origin of the term is somewhat hazy, but it apparently developed as a replacement for gender-specific aspects embodied in the words “Latino” and “Latina”. As Professor David Bowles at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley put it, the word “Latinx” is a “non-gender, non-binary, inclusive way of pushing back against the default masculine in Spanish.”
There is little evidence to speak of the actual use of the term “Latinx” in general discourse in the US, its use apparently often enough to generate controversy, although it should be considered in the light of Pew data. Three-quarters of Hispanic adults have never heard of the term.
Pew also analyzed Google Trends data in its 2020 report and found an increase in searches for the word “Latinx” in recent years, particularly after the fatal shooting during a Latin night at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in June 2016. But the absolute number of searches for the word is still very low, especially when compared to searches for the words “Latina,” “Latino” and “Hispanic.” And, of course, while Google searches indicate interest in the term, they don’t tell us how often it is used in daily life.
I don’t know of any research measuring non-Hispanic adults’ awareness and use of the word “Latinx” and non-Hispanic adults’ attitudes toward the word or their views on its use by others. Is.
The ‘Latinx’ controversy is part of a larger cultural trend
The development and use of the term “Latinx” reflects larger social trends, including a greater focus on the power of words and a greater emphasis on identity groups.
College campuses today are embroiled in discussions about what is and isn’t free speech, and some campuses have put out trigger warnings to alert students to incoming words and content they may find upsetting. can.
Advocacy organizations now publish guidelines for the use of appropriate words in the context of their population of interest. GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) provides a media reference guide that lists terms to avoid and terms to like when writing about gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues. The American Medical Association has published “Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narratives and Concepts”, which is designed to “give a new perspective to the language we commonly use and to recognize the harmful effects of dominant narratives in medicine.” was made for.” Several groups interested in equity and diversity have published a Racial Equity Tools Glossary addressing label controversies, stating “whether African American or Black, Hispanic American, Latinx or Latino, Native American or American Indian, And whether to use the terms Pacific Islander or Asian American depends on a number of conditions, including the geographic location, age, generation and, sometimes, political orientation of your intended audience.”
Labels acquire special importance in times of heightened importance of group identity in the social and political spheres – each group sought to assert its collective identity and express its particular grievances. The focus on terms currently used to describe racial and ethnic groups also reflects efforts to correct the long historical record of the use of racial and ethnic labels.
can become political football
As is true on many issues today, the “Latinx” controversy has potential political implications. Use of the term in upcoming elections could become a factor if Republicans attempt to enhance their performance among Hispanic voters by making the label a symbolic indicator of liberal, progressive redundancy. Along these lines, the Bendixen and Amandi poll found that 30% of Hispanic voters would be less likely to support a politician or political organization that used the word “Latinx”, while 15% said they were more likely will be; About half said it wouldn’t matter. Pew data showed that Democratic Hispanic Americans are somewhat more familiar with the term “Latinx” than Republican Hispanic Americans and are slightly more likely to use it, although usage is much lower between the two groups.
There is an irony in the fact that surveyors should use group labels to define groups in their surveys by asking that group about the word they want to use to define themselves. Gallup, like other pollsters, closely follows the terms used by the U.S. Census and asks respondents, “Are you of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish descent—such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or other Spanish descent? “
The Census Bureau’s race and ethnicity labels follow those developed by the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These in turn reflect “a social definition of race and ethnicity generally recognized in this country, and they do not conform to any biological, anthropological or genetic criteria.” The Census Bureau in conjunction with the OMB reports that “since the 1970s, the Census Bureau has conducted material tests for research and improvement in the design and function of various questions, including questions on race and ethnicity.” Thus, it is possible that the OMB and the Census Bureau may change their questions about Hispanic identity in the future, and possibly include the possibility of adding new words such as “Latinx”.
At this time, however, there appears to be little indication – from the point of view of the people – that “Latinx” is a term in widespread use or a broader understanding, and thus uses it as an additional label for Hispanic or Spanish ethnicity. There doesn’t seem to be much empirical basis.