Latinos are now America’s largest ethnic group and are playing a significant role in defining the country’s economic, social, and cultural landscape. Although Americans have been seeking a term to describe a group that accounts for 19 percent of the U.S population, they can never achieve an ultimate term that does not discourage the sense of community among the people they are supposed to describe.
The earliest common term that existed was “Hispanic,” which is used to refer to people from Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, which excludes Brazilians. Although it was first introduced by the Nixon administration on the 1970 census, the community soon refused to use this term for highlighting Spain, which colonized much of Latin America. “Latino” is an alternative term for “Hispanic”, and it refers to people from, or whose ancestors were from, a Spanish-speaking land or culture or from Latin America. “Latina” is the feminine form. However, “Latino/Latina” fails to include those gender identity do not fall within the gender binary. As the result, using the term “Latinx” to refer to all people of Latin American descent has become more common as members of the LGBTQ community, and its advocates have embraced the label. However, some still rejected this term because the gendered structure of the Spanish language has made “Latinx” both an inclusive and controversial term.
I do not belong to the group whose ascendant was from a Spanish-speaking land. However, the more common terms I noticed media preferring to use to are “Latino/Latina”. I think this makes much sense for its inclusivity, while using “Hispanic” may include negative connotations and racist undertones. To sum things up, “Hispanic”, “Latino/Latina”, or “Latinx” are terms that encompass culture, ethnicity, and identity and are rooted in shared cultures. When using one of these terms to refer to a specific person, always respect their preference.
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