Arkansas erases the inclusive term “Latinx” with a stroke of the pen

The governor of Ankansas, the Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders, set a precedent this week by prohibiting the use of “Latinx” in official documents, a neutral term embraced by the LGBT+ community as a symbol of linguistic liberation, but which does not seem to be liked by the community. hispanic

“Latinx” is a gender-neutral or non-binary word that has become popular in recent years among some groups, politicians, and universities. It is used mainly by some young people to describe people of Latin American origin or descent, as an alternative to the simple denomination of “Hispanics” or “Latinos”.

But in general, few know about it and even fewer use it.

According to a 2020 study by the Pew Research Center, one in four people in the Latin American community has heard of it but only 3% use it to describe themselves.

Democrats are more likely to use it than Republicans, in whose ranks some have declared war on it, such as Governor Huckabee Sanders, who was White House press officer during the presidency of Donald Trump (2017-2021).

This Tuesday, Sanders signed a decree to respect, according to her, the community of Latin American origin “by removing culturally insensitive words from official use in government.”

“Ethnically insensitive and pejorative language has no place in official documents,” says Sanders’ order, which gives offices 60 days to review all written materials and replace “Latinx” – singular, plural, lowercase and capital letters – for the terms Hispanic, Hispanic, Latino or Latina, as appropriate.

To justify his decision, he cites the Pew Research study and the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE).

“You cannot remove the gender from Spanish and other Romance languages,” nor can you remove the vowels and verbs from English, the decree maintains.

In its report on inclusive language, the RAE states that, as the grammatical masculine is the term “allowed for generic and inclusive uses, it can serve to include in the reference those who do not feel identified with any of the binary sexual or generic categories”.

But the new word does appear in the Oxford and Cambridge English dictionaries.

The controversy is served, although it had been bubbling for some time within the Republican Party.

Without going any further, on the eve of the midterm elections last November, the Republican Mónica de la Cruz, who won a seat, tweeted: “The Democrats are the party of the Latinx. We are the party that respects your culture and recognizes Hispanics as the people who have given the world cultural icons like our beloved Selena, Luis Miguel, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz.”

A controversy that does not seem to take hold among the majority of the more than 62 million people of Latin American origin who live in the United States, where the new term was invented.

In a 2021 poll, Gallup asked respondents if they preferred to be called “Hispanic,” “Latino” or “Latinx,” and 57% said they didn’t care. But only 4% mentioned “latinx.”

However, sometimes the polls are wrong and in any case their result does not set the stage.

For its defenders, the term ‘Latinx’ is not anodyne.

“The ‘Latinx’ label indicates an openness to gender inclusion and a greater tacit recognition of our racial and ethnic diversity,” Arlene Dávila, founding director of the Latinx Project at New York University, said in a column in The New York Times. .

Before ‘latinx’, ‘latin@’ was used, and for some time now a rival has appeared in the world of gender inclusion: ‘latine’, promoted by those who consider it to be more in line with Spanish grammar.

“Yes please, we prefer latin, it fits better in our language than latinx, which was created exclusively by english speakers in the west!!”, says a netizen on Twitter.

And whoever does not like any of these terms but defends inclusive language in terms of gender can always leave aside the racial qualifier and specify, for example, geographical origin when they consider it necessary.


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