In July of 2017, I was a participant of the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media at the UNC School of Media and Journalism. One article I wrote during my time in the program was about the new term “Latinx” and its effects on the Hispanic community.
Latinx. The new gender inclusive term.
By Julian Berger
Latinx. When you hear the word, you may think about the minority, Latino, but what’s with the “X” in Latinx?
The new noun, “Latinx,” is a gender-neutral word that refers to people whose heritage originates from Latin America.
The new word has been striking controversy in the United States as well as in Latin America. For some Hispanics, the new word, Latinx, creates a feeling of gender neutrality.
Colombian journalist and New York City resident, Valeria Ricciulli, finds the new progressive word very welcoming of others.
“For me, the word Latinx means gender neutrality, inclusion, and progress,” she said. “There are now more people who identify as Latinx and who use the word in order to be more inclusive.”
With the emphasis of diversity on the rise, many have been turning to use this word instead of its counterpart “Latino” or “Latina,” which specifically places the gender on the word.
“(Latinx) is a great alternative to using ‘latino’ or ‘latinos’ which is a masculine word that serves as the generic term, and it’s problematic as it completely ignores and erases women and other gender identities,” Ricciulli said.
Latinx doesn’t grammatically serve as a noun in the Spanish language since there isn’t a gender on the term, which has created some controversy over the word.
Dr. Lucila Vargas, UNC School of Media and Journalism professor emerita, believes that the new term should remain being used in English.
“I’m not sure if you can say that it is grammatically correct or not because it is used in English, it is not used in Spanish,” she said. “When it’s used in Spanish, (Latinx) would be grammatically incorrect.”
Because minority representation in media is increasing, Hispanics feel that the term should be included in publications, on the air, and on the web.
“Latinx is a correct term to use in journalism. Several news outlets use it, but it always depends on the editors if it is used or not,” Ricciulli said.
Most Hispanics are anticipating that the word will grow in terms of usage in the future, but some are still worried that people won’t fully understand the meaning and origin of the word.
“It depends on how accepted the term becomes because it takes a very long time for terms to be accepted,” Vargas said. “I’m not going to use the term because most people would not understand what I’m talking about.”
“I think that language plays a fundamental role in the way society functions,” Ricciulli said. She’s fairly optimistic about the word “Latinx” but believes the increased usage of the word will take some time.