Another Problem for 'Latinx'

Another Problem for 'Latinx'
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Election Night almost killed Latinx. As results started trickling in, media figures and political strategists struggled to process what they were seeing in Florida and Texas. The “blue wave” that polls had suggested would punish Republicans was instead showing a dramatic shift in Latino-voter support toward the GOP. What could explain this? Democrats’ embrace of “wokeness” and, in this case, use of the term Latinx seemed like an easy target.

Latinx is a gender-neutral way for people of Latin American descent to identify without using labels such as Latino, Latina, and Hispanic, all terms that either abide by the Spanish language’s gender binary or center Latin America’s colonial ties to Spain. But use of the word also challenges people to think differently about pan-ethnic identity and gender. This fall, when I set out to see how popular Latinx is among Latino members of Congress, I expected to find a solid mix of answers. A handful of progressive legislators would surely have embraced the label, and I expected that even more representatives might switch back and forth, deploying it as often as Hispanic or Latino. What I found instead was something less predictable: The term is used on Capitol Hill—but rarely. Legislators and their staff shy away from it, and the word is almost never discussed among the country’s top Latino elected officials, despite outsize attention to it in mainstream media.

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