Focusing on inclusivity, celebrating diversity and seeking equity: This is the foundation of why we recognize cultural heritage months throughout the year.
Each September is recognized as Latinx Heritage Month, but many don’t understand the use of the term Latinx.
According to Dr. Jason Jolley, associate dean of the Reynolds College of Arts and Letters and professor of Spanish at Missouri State University, Latinx emerged primarily as part of the sociopolitcal environment.
“It’s an alternative to the gendered endings of Latino and Latina,” he said. “The gender of Spanish is male or female binary. So, for some who don’t identify on that binary, they prefer the term Latinx as being gender neutral or non-binary.”
Jolley said there is little consensus around any favored pan-ethnic term, or a term used to group various ethnic groups together based on related cultural origins.
In a 2020 Pew Research Center study of Latinx-Americans , researchers found that:
- 61% preferred the term Hispanic.
- 29% preferred the term Latino.
- 5% preferred something else.
- And only 4% preferred Latinx.
Jolley believes the “something else” likely means a term that refers specifically to the individual’s nationality.
“We’re living in very polarized times and sometimes people will fixate on the language we use,” Jolley said. “It’s OK to gently correct somebody. But I think we need to extend a lot of grace and not fixate when somebody uses a term that you think is outmoded.”