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The change of words: Latinx Caucus talks about inclusive language

The Latinx Caucus hosted their annual “Meaning Behind Latinx” event on Sept. 15 to kick off Latino/a/x/e Hispanic Heritage Month.

The caucus (which includes the Association of Latin American Students, Association of Latino Professionals for America, Alpha Psi Lambda, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Sigma Lambda Gamma and Sigma Lambda Beta) presented a slideshow covering details on how minorities from Latin America have been trying to refer to themselves over the years. Alicia Martinez, Latinx Caucus Ambassador, was one of the presenters on stage for the event.

“We started this event to remind people that Hispanic Heritage is the original name nationally, but we’ve been more inclusive with the terms Latine, Latinx, Latino and Latina,“ Martinez, sophomore business administration and marketing double major, said. “[We’re] just bringing back those terms and letting our community know these terms to expand our community.”

They showed terms such as mestizo (to mean having European and Native Latin American parents, chicano (originally meaning American-born Latinx in Chicago) and Hispanic which was coined by U.S. President Richard Nixon. The terms have changed throughout the years, with some being argued as having a problematic history according to the slides.

Latino has been used to refer to people with origins from Latin America. Hispanic is used to refer to people with origins from Spanish speaking countries. Now the most recent term emerging is Latinx in order to include people who don’t identify as a man (Latino) or a woman (Latina).

“I’ve heard of Latinx over social media, but I never dove deep into it until today,” Sophia Regario, sophomore nursing major, said. “It was interesting to know the meaning behind it and that the word wants to be more inclusive was really interesting to know because, over social media, people are bashing it.”

Regario said that she knows that there’s other cultures and languages around the world that have been changing their words to be more inclusive of gender-nonconforming people. English has seen a rise of gender neutral words, such as they/them for pronouns and occupation titles such as “fireman” to “firefighter,” or “councilwoman” to “council member”.

However, the presentation also covered that native Spanish speakers and those in Latin American countries are confused with the term Latinx, as ‘x’ has not been used in place for gender neutrality like it has in English.

The origins are currently unclear, but there are plenty of opinions shared on the placement of an ‘x’ at the end over ‘a’ and ‘o’.

“A lot of people think that [this word] came from people who were born in the U.S. who are trying to create these terms,” Martinez said. “People in Latin America find that as an insult because it’s their community, too. They feel like they didn’t take part [in] the creation of this term.”

Others may understand Latinx but also see the preference for Latine.

“Latine flows a little better with the language; [for] Latinx some people are still trying to accept the term,” Regario said.

Martinez, who hadn’t heard the term until arriving on campus, wants the Bradley community to learn as much as she did.

“It just brought light to me; even this event, I was contributing [to] it and creating and I was also learning a little bit more,” Martinez said. “I had no clue about them; I would always see them at festivals. Just the experience of being an ambassador [for ALPFA] has given me the opportunity to learn about these words.”

Latino/a/x/e Hispanic Heritage Month starts Sept. 15 and ends Oct 15. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Latinx Caucus will host various events throughout the month.

An earlier version of the article had left out Alicia Martinez being the Latinx Caucus Ambassador. There was a correction on Martinez being mentioned as a junior business administration major, Martinez is a sophomore business administration and marketing double major. The Latinx Caucus was referred to as an organization without stating the following groups being part of the caucus; the Association of Latin American Students, the Association of Latino Professionals for America, Alpha Psi Lambda, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Sigma Lambda Gamma and Sigma Lambda Beta. This article was updated on Sept. 21, 2021 to reflect those changes. 

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