Whether to use Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic has many of us walking on eggshells. You’re not alone. Even though I have a Mexican upbringing, I was confused too.

There’s a reason for the confusion.  It’s because we use Latinx as an alternative way to describe the entire Latino/Hispanic population. We’re also confused if we should use “Hispanic” or “Latino” or “Latina”.  Being that I’m hardwired for research, I ended up spending a few hours scouring the internet to figure this out.  I looked at multiple sources to make sure I was getting accurate information.  Amidst the variety of opinions I looked for information that was consistent and to  for draw a conclusion. 

So, without further ado, I will  share what I learned with you all

Before we get to Latinx, it’s important to first understand the difference between Hispanic and Latino.  Hispanic refers to people who speak Spanish, come from a Spanish speaking population, or from Spanish speaking countries.  Latino refers to people who are either from or descended from Latin America.  In other words.  Latinos can be Hispanic because Latinos speak Spanish.  But  Hispanics who don’t have  Latin American roots aren’t Latinos.

Now, on to Latinx.

The word “Latinx” was never meant to address the entire Hispanic  population. Latinx emerged as a way for non-binary gender Latin-Americans to identify themselves.  More specifically it was used in the LGBT community as a means of challenging the use of masculine and feminine in the Spanish language.  From there the meaning of Latinx morphed into a label  used to identify anyone of all Latinos/Hispanics  First Latinx was used by academia,  university students, and in turn the  LGBT community.  Next came the progressives who started using Latinx and then it  caught on within the general American population.

The key idea at the heart of Latinx is the concept of self-identity.  Originally Latinx was created as a means of self-identification for members of the Latino LGBT community.  The  Latino LGBT movement invented and chose Latinx for themselves. 

A number of articles have been written about how Latinx is offensive to Latinos/Hispanics, and that it’s a divisive word that’s causing a rift within them.  The truth is, the majority of Latinos/Hispanics couldn’t care less about Latinx.  In fact, the majority of Latinos/Hispanics don’t know about, or have no interest in the term “Latinx”.  According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 19 percent (roughly 62.1 million) of the total U.S. population is Latino or Hispanic. Only 1 out 4 U.S. Hispanics/Latinos have heard of the term Latinx, and only 3% of the 1 out of  4 use it.

On side note,  I was spending some time in Mexico and asked a friend if he preferred to be called Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx.  He looked at me with an expression on his face like “What’s the matter with you” and  said, “I’m Mexican”.

Here is a link to a great explanation of “Latinx” by language researcher and respected author,  Dr. Jose Medina.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/video/60-million-americans-call-latinx-82278818

So, should you use Latinx, Latino, or Hispanic?  Well,  by definition if someone  is Latino LGBT, then most likely it would be Latinx.  If someone is Hispanic or Latino, you can safely say Hispanic since Latinos speak Spanish.  Problem it’s hard to know which term to use when you don’t know if someone is Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx. I have two work arounds.  First when it comes to writing,  I cover the bases with Hispanic/Latino.  If I’m speaking to someone who is Hispanic/Latino I just say  something like “I want to make sure I don’t say accidently say something to offend you, so please tell me if you prefer Latino, Hispanic, or Latinx”.   I wouldn’t  worry to much about using Latinx when speaking to someone who is Hispanic/Latino.  There’s a good chance she or he will be unfamiliar with the term.  And if they are familiar,  Latinx means absolutely zilch to them.   However there’s also a chance of you coming  across as being out of touch with the world of Hispanics.  

Hope all that was helpful and hasta la próxima!