My Response to Ximena’s “Why Is “Latinx” Inclusive, Necessary and Unifying?” essay.
By: Xavier Bonilla
The central thesis in the discussion around whether to use “Latinx” or not appears to be inclusion. Ximena wrote an honest and thoughtful essay on some of the contours surrounding the use of Latinx as an inclusive term. In her essay, she paints a wonderful picture of the various labels that Latinos have in a more diverse, progressive city like Brooklyn, New York.
I firmly agree with her emphasis, focusing on the individual and not merely assuming people will identify with a given label. The individuality element is essential. We shouldn’t view an ethnic group as a monolithic group. There is certainly a shared sense of convergence with Latinos in our food, music, and language but there are tremendous amounts of divergence within specific cultures, histories, and politics, too. Ximena and I firmly agree on one key thing: to focus on the individual, instead of blanketed terms for individual people. .
And yet, I could not follow the jump from these statements about individuality as linking towards why we need Latinx.
I am trying to understand Ximena’s resistance to certain labels placed upon her and others (e.g., Hispanic, Brown, Latina, etc…), yet believe the solution is using the new term Latinx to solve this problem? As I stated in my piece, replacing the “o” with an “x” to create a new term from online communities isn’t real inclusion.
But, let me be clear. I am not against individuals or some communities using the term “Latinx.” My resistance to the term is that it’s being applied in place of Latinos for ALL Latinos.
Again, as I remarked in my first essay, this is a type of lexical imperialism for Latinos. We do not need an online curated term, guised as inclusion, for a small subset of people, while dividing the majority of Latinos. The word Latino is already inclusive for all different types of people.
Ximena’s is correct, that inclusion and self-identity are two different and essential human needs. She’s also correct that language is constantly evolving. However, I do not think it is language that unites us but relationships with other people that brings us together. Yes, we must respect how others want to be called and treated, but we shouldn’t impose new language on a very diverse ethnicity as their new label.
Instead of replacing “Latino”, we should foster stronger connections amongst our community and build trust with the people included – todos nosotros.
My Response to Xavier’s “ Why Is “Latino” Already Inclusive?” essay.
By: Ximena Del Cerro
Expression is life. Art is expression. Emotion is expression. Love is expression. Language is expression. Is neutrality expression? Or is silence a more safe way to be neutral? And if so, who is benefitted by silence?
The problem with trying to maintain neutrality through language is that our current social context is not neutral. We, as humans, are not neutral beings. We, as Latinx, are commonly not neutral at all. Is Neutral something we should aspire to?
Language evolves with time —that is just inevitable, fortunately. What we should have evolved out of, but we haven’t, is inequality, misogyny and intolerance.
In 2022, we’ve witnessed how 3,000 women were killed in one country because they are women. I am not referring to the women in Iran who, in the last few months, took on social media to protest, demanding to be treated with dignity, who feared for their lives if ever caught wearing their hair scarf the wrong way. Those who’ve been sentenced to death. I mean the women in Mexico who are not strangers to gender persecution, Latinas who are not given a dignified place in society. In addition to them, in 2021, at least 78 LGBTQ people were violently murdered for alleged reasons related to sexual orientation, identity or expression of gender.
While this continues to happen, we should be stuck in academic discussions on how to use words that would express inclusion. We need a term that responds to a revolution against oppression and violence. We can’t stick to traditional grammar in order to find something it has never given —total acknowledgment of equality. We need to make practical and advanced changes because, truth is, we need change.
The terms we use are not cutting it. Latino evokes the outside influence of colonialism. Hispanic is a reference to a language not all of us speak and our ancestors didn’t either. Latin-American exclusively indicates a geographic allusion, therefore, it doesn’t include Latinx immigrants.
If the “x” is the problem because it’s not how language has worked for centuries, then perhaps, the problem is that we are preserving something that is too old and obsolete to our needs.
Spanish isn’t a perfect language. It is part of our identity in beautiful ways, but it needs perfecting. Respecting its integrity can be achieved through change. Lets demand media and scholars to come up with more options, something that expresses love and inclusion. Let’s invite everyone to be creative with it.
In the meantime, let’s use Latinx and see what happens. Latinx can be the beginning of the future. It has already sparked discussions with us as the center and not, once again as accessories to cultures that are enriched by our efforts. Maybe we’ll find ourselves evolving faster through experimentation than through rejection and neutrality.
Let’s reshape our languages. Let’s reshape our minds. Let’s reshape society. Let’s do it better. Lets lose the fear of change and always strive for improvement.
Editor’s Note: Next week on the “Yellow Seeds Magazine” youtube channel, Xavier and Ximena will hold an in-depth discussion on why “Latino” or “Latinx” is essential to them. Also, they will candidly discuss their thoughts about this process and what they think (now) about each other’s stances.
Be sure to subscribe, and we’ll see you there!