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‘Latinx’ and the power of a progressive narrative

The College Fix still gets some readers who ask “What the heck is ‘Latinx’?”

I totally understand. It was almost four years ago when I began seeing its use in articles, usually all academically related. Now it’s popping up everywhere. Even a presidential candidate is using it.

The term means “Latino/a,” but is supposed to be “inclusive” to gender non-conforming individuals. However, as is the case with a lot of things, what may be popular in the academy isn’t in the real world.

Medium article from yesterday details how progressive pollster ThinkNow Research showed that almost all Latinos do not identify with the “Latinx” label:

“Despite its usage by academics and cultural influencers, 98% of Latinos prefer other terms to describe their ethnicity. Only 2% of our respondents said the label accurately describes them, making it the least popular ethnic label among Latinos.”

“Hispanic” comes in at #1 with about 44-percent, followed by “Latino/a” at 24-percent.

Interestingly (and hilariously), “Latinx” is even beat out by simply “American.”

Four years ago, a pair of Latino Swarthmore University students wrote an op-ed blasting “Latinx,” calling it “a misguided desire to forcibly change the language […] millions of people around the world speak.” They noted (as all college students must do these days, unfortunately) that they have no prejudice against gender non-conformists and aren’t against gender-inclusive language as a whole.

This is akin to what writer Giancarlo Sopo noted recently on Twitter: “I’ll call someone whatever they want and if the 0.2% of Latinos who are non-binary want to use ‘Latinx,’ fine, no problem. But it’s very strange for people like [Elizabeth Warren] to impose such an unpopular term on *ALL* Latinos.”

He continues:

The argument that “Latinx” has Nahuatl origins strains credulity and is merely an ex post-facto explanation to give it a veneer of authenticity. The term originated online in the US and it’s now being imposed inorganically on *all* Latinos by elite activists and corporations.

(Nahuatl are [were] Native Americans from southern Mexico and Central America, and included the Aztecs. I had not heard that argument made about “Latinx,” but it doesn’t surprise me in the least.)

“Latinx” proponent Maria Scharron-del Rio of Brooklyn College wrote four years ago that it “remains to be seen” whether the term becomes mainstream. Hopefully, this poll is indicative of the term’s mainstream death.

It’s a good bet that polls on other academese such as “intersectionality,” “white privilege,” “preferred pronouns” (check out this video at the :30 mark: “USE HER PRONOUNS!”), “white fragility,” and (white) teacher racism being responsible for the black-white achievement gap would yield similar results.

The real problem is fighting back against this pseudo-social science in grades K through 12. Stay vigilant.

MORE: Emory University students demand ‘Latinx’ studies department

MORE: Prof: Gender inclusive term ‘Latinx’ is ‘clapping back at whiteness’

IMAGE: Ron Mader / Flickr.com

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.