The term, I have learned, has been around for over a decade, becoming more widely used only in the last 5 years. There are many arguments against it:
- It is an intrusion of English and perhaps the implication of a double colonizing language, in the usurping of the power of Spanish, which itself comes from the colonization of indigenous peoples and their lands by the Spanish.
- It could be seen as a historical looting that has continued in the form of different cultural norms and language.
- It just isn’t easy to say in Spanish as “-ex” is not a sound we generally have (though it is important to note that many languages from indigenous communities do use the “x”, though pronounced differently than the hard “-ex”.
- That “Latine” might be a word that is more phonologically and linguistically in line with the intention of Latinx. I myself have received this as an alternative from many in reviewing the guidelines for The Acentos Review.
I persist in Latinx for several reasons.
First, before getting to sound or meaning, I want to speak of the visuals. I am reminded of Malcolm X, before he adopted the name of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, and how he used the “X” in his name to call attention to the inability of peoples of African-descent in the Americas to trace back our ancestors and claim our true names. Rather, we were given the names of slave masters as chattel, our histories erased, yet our peoples educated to believe that we started out as slaves to be trained and controlled with no histories, eloquence, intelligence of our own. He sought to remind those operating within a white supremacist structure that the truth was out and that our ability to trace back had been mostly effective, our brilliance, eloquence, and drawing on a wider and collective history had not. The crime of bodily theft, the crimes of all the atrocities of slavery, and the resultant guilt and the absolute requirement of reparations had also not been erased; rather, he shone a spotlight light in the name of a transformative justice that would be taken, not asked for. I think on that history and the history of all those of African-descent who have reclaimed our histories and our names, because Latinidad is multicultural and cannot be disentangled from exploring what is means to be of or in connection to those of African descent. In this stance, I push back against the racism within our own Latinx communities. Additionally, the “x” literally seems to be a crossroads or intersection of lines that forms letter, which pushes forward, for me, the idea of intersectionality as an analytical tool to understand and combat oppression.
Secondly, in previous work, I had used Latin@ to be inclusive of men and women within the Latinx community. This was an ineffective attempt at inclusivity. In an effort to not erase the work of women in the plural through the use of Latinos (for those who do not speak Spanish, in the plural, it is typical to use the plural masculine to encompass women if there are men and women in a group), I had othered those within our community who identify as trans- or gender non-conforming. To do so, also others the indigenous roots within our communities as well as our African roots as there has long been language and practice, I am learning, depending for those who do not live in the gender binary. Our communities have been dynamic in the fluidity of gender before history was history.
Thirdly, why I acknowledge the privilege that comes from the insertion of a tool like the “-ex” sound, which I believe comes from the English, I also recognize that there are a vast amount of us for whom English is one of the languages with which we were raised. We are not bound by an academy’s rules in Spain; we will not be subjugated or policed in our language, as if to wipe away those diverse parts of our community. Language will be refined over time, and there may be a better way to be inclusive. I will be eager to see that.
For now, Latinx works as a representation of my political and ideological stance of inclusiveness and anti-oppression and anti-racist work in the Latinx community.
#twt, #21of52, #52essays2017