The Naming Dispute Among Hispanics and Latinxs

In a hostile political climate such as the one we are currently in, it is easy to forget about the little things. So many different stories competing day-to-day for the highest honor of being considered front page news has blurred the lines of what it means to be respectful. Identity and ethnicity, specifically, have been undermined by not only my media but also by our everchanging societal tendencies and this is what has allowed us to forget the importance of both. To begin to better ourselves and reconstruct the standard of civility, let us never forget to treat each other with human decency and the utmost respect in these areas.

As a Peruvian-American citizen, I experienced first hand growing up and being categorized as Mexican purely because of my ability to speak Spanish. Although I have nothing but love for Mexico and all of my Mexican counterparts, it is not a part of my identity. There were countless times where ‘friends’ of mine, not wanting to be enlightened, misidentified me, whether as a joke or not, and shrugged it off with the excuse of “well, same difference, right?” The answer is no. This is the issue present is the topic of ethnic identity amongst Spanish speakers today.

To preface, Hispanic/Latinx is, technically, not considered a race. This is due to colonization, caste systems and many other historical and evolutional occurrences (if you're interested in reading more on those, read the link attached). Like mentioned before, Hispanic/Latinx is not considered a race, but rather an ethnicity. Under this umbrella, there are two types of people, Hispanics and Latinxs. Hispanics are simply people with Spanish-speaking heritage (note that this excludes Brazil as they do not primarily speak Spanish, but Portuguese). Latinx, on the other hand, focuses on the geographical identity behind the different Spanish-speaking ethnics. Latinxs are individuals whose heritage traces back to one of the 46 countries in Latin America, Central America or the Caribbean (note that this identity is geographically tied; therefore it includes Brazil but excludes Spain). An analogy that can simplify this terminology is the mathematical phenomenon: a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. In simpler-er terms, a Latinx individual can also be considered Hispanic, but a Hispanic individual cannot be considered Latinx.

Although it seems like something simple and small, this terminology does carry big weight in ethnic identity. By understanding the importance of these ethnic identities allows you to not only correctly address your friends and acquaintances but also enlighten yourself to how they may carry out their lives because of it. So next time you may not be sure of how someone identifies, ask politely! If you're interested in the cultural differences between the two have an educational conversation with the person, I can guarantee they would be flattered you asked.

Stay informed, collegiettes!