Guest post: Demeaning and unnecessary

Originally a comment by Papito on Smile when you call us that.

Lumping Hispanics together into a single group would be an improvement over what “Latinx” does. Creating a unified Latin American group is what Univision has done so successfully, and as the article says, they never say “Latinx.” When I saw what Univision was doing in creating a broad yet unified Hispanic audience I was amazed.

What “Latinx” says is that Hispanics are using their own language wrong, and they need Anglos to fix it for them. It’s colossally demeaning, and utterly unnecessary. The word is used in English, and English doesn’t have genders (either to fix, or be left alone). If they just used a different word, it would entirely obviate the need. Using “Latino” in English in the first place is a patronizing appropriation of Spanish. It gained popularity because Anglos didn’t want to say Hispanic and are too lazy to say Latin American. The problems don’t start only once you get to “Latinx.”

Mostly, Hispanic people don’t dislike being referred to as Hispanic, they’re not squeamish about the idea of Spain (and, BTW, Spanish people don’t refer to themselves as “Hispanic,” they’re Spanish). The idea that we shouldn’t use “Hispanic” because of the reference to Spain is that kind of woke racism McWhorter talks about. It’s because nice Anglo liberals don’t want to be reminded, they want to project more otherness on Hispanics, and on more than just a linguistic level.

I used to teach Spanish at the college level, and the degree of ignorance of the incoming college student can hardly be exaggerated. Most Americans don’t think there are any white people, or black people, in Mexico, or elsewhere in Latin America. They think that “Hispanic” is a race. They don’t know that people speak Portuguese in Brazil. The term “Latinx” helps cover up all that ignorance.

Crap, you got me up on my soapbox now. The reason it’s important, in America, to use the term “Hispanic” is because of the unique history of Hispanic peoples in America. It’s all well and good to want to use the term “Latin American” if we want to talk about other people who may have immigrated here from the South, but Hispanics hold the distinction of the country moving to them, rather than vice versa. Hispanics aren’t a foreign, immigrant minority in the United States, they’re a linguistic minority (and more than one cultural minority) that has been present here since before the United States existed. Lumping Hispanics in with other Latin Americans is a form of denial of this history. The US never stole half of Brazil, or occupied Surinam. People who ended up in the US because the border crossed them are in a fundamentally different position.

Don’t Latinx Me, Bro!

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