Dear progressive politicians, pundits and media friends: Stop trying to make the term “Latinx” a thing.
Trust us here in Miami, where, Ya tu sabes, we drink cafecitos and parental discipline is usually delivered with a chancleta.
You’re like Gretchen Wieners in the movie “Mean Girls” trying to turn “fetch” into the next cool slang. So, we’ll channel our best Regina George to say: Stop trying to make Latinx happen! It’s not going to happen!
We’re not the only ones saying that. The so-called “Latinx community” doesn’t even want to be called Latinx.
That’s the finding of a new national poll by Bendixen & Amandi International, a Miami-based Democratic firm focusing on Latino — and we mean Latino — outreach. The survey of 800 registered voters of Latin American descent was conducted in mid-November and found that a meager 2% described themselves as Latinx — the gender-neutral term preferred that’s found its way into media reports and political speeches. The term was unpopular no matter the age or political affiliation of respondents.
The majority (68%) preferred “Hispanic” or “Latina/Latino” (21%). In Miami, whenever possible, we advise you call them Cuban, Colombian, Venezuelan, Dominican, Argentine etc. And please don’t call Brazilians Hispanic — they speak Portuguese, not Spanish.
The poll also found that 40% say “Latinx” bothers or offends them, and 30% are less likely to support a politician or political organization that uses the term to discuss the members of that community.
It’s starting to look like the majority of people using Latinx are well-meaning non-Hispanics like President Joe Biden, who was mocked on social media for pulling a Gretchen Wieners during remarks about COVID-19 vaccinations in June — “It’s awful hard, as well, to get Latinx vaccinated as well,” he said. The term also pops up in the occasional news headline — “Latinx students now eligible to apply for Hispanic scholarship,” read one from Kansas.
Every time a Democratic politician uses the term, a Republican operative celebrates. It’s just what the GOP needs to make the case that Democrats are too busy being “woke” to worry about the everyday-life concerns of Americans. Of course, Democrats have more to blame than just a word for the inroads Donald Trump made into those communities in South Florida last November. The Democratic Party is struggling to land the right message with voters and has been notoriously absent from the Hispanic community until the eve of elections.
Some activists prefer Latinx because the word “Hispanic” by definition relates to Spain, the main colonizer of Latin America. Many don’t like “Latino” because it’s a masculine term. “Latina” is its feminine form, but Spanish grammar defaults to the masculine plural “Latinos” when referring to a group of people of all genders.
We get it. Spanish grammar can be sexist and a foe to gender neutrality — people who want to be called Latinx should be respected. Nouns and most adjectives have a gender in Spanish. Our beloved cafecito is masculine and the feared chancleta (flip-flop) is feminine.
That’s the irony of “Latinx” — it’s supposed to be inclusive but erases a crucial part of Latin American identity and language, and replaces it with an English word.
The language of Miguel de Cervantes does not fit the demands of the 21st century, but it’s the language many Miamians spoke at home before they learned English; it’s how they communicate with their parents, abuelas, abuelos, tias and tios.
“Latinx” has failed to gain buy-in from the people it’s supposed to empower. It’s time to retire it from official use.