In a winning editorial piece written for The Learning Network’s Eighth Annual Student Editorial Contest, one Minnesota teen slammed the use of the term Latinx, a term he calls "problematic."
Evan Odegard Pereira, a 16-year-old from St. Paul Minnesota, was one of 10 winners of The Learning Network’s Contest. According to the New York Times, he attends school at Nova Classical Academy.
In his op-ed, Pereira outlines the "complicated" history the United States has had categorizing those of Latin American descent.
"… the term Latinx is just the most recent example. Created as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina, it has gained momentum over the past decade and is now used by politicians, universities and corporations eager to signal their awareness of this new term. Despite its good intentions, many Latinos, including myself, view it as problematic," wrote Pereira.
Citing a 2020 Pew Research Center study, only 3 percent of US Latinos use the term Latinx.
"Most haven’t heard of it, and those who have overwhelmingly reject it. Many of us find Latinx confusing or culturally offensive," Pereira added.
Pereira pointed out that the term defies the basics of the Spanish language, and is an Anglicization of said language.
"To native Spanish speakers, Latinx feels foreign and imposed," said Pereira.
Pereira states that conversations about gender inclusivity in the language were happening long before the introduction of Latinx, with groups providing terms that fit into the rules of the language.
"Activists in Argentina have offered Latine as a non-Anglicized gender-neutral option which actually works in Spanish. Other accepted gender-neutral terms include Latin and Latin American. These alternatives prove that Latinx is simply not necessary," he wrote.
He adds that the forced usage of Latinx from outside the community was a form of "linguistic imperialism," and added that the community itself needs to make its own terms.
"Language changes over time, but such adaptations must be organic. Forced changes from outside our community are a form of linguistic imperialism, which centers the English language and perpetuates cultural erasure," said Pereira. "At its core, this is an issue of linguistic self-determination. The Latino community doesn’t need politicians and corporations to “fix” our language; we can confront our community’s issues on our own terms."
Pereira said that the movement towards gender inclusivity is important, but that the well-intentioned but unwanted label imposed on the community wasn’t the way to do it.
"While well-intentioned, the use of Latinx creates more problems than solutions, and makes Latinos feel ignored and disrespected," he said.
"To would-be allies, rather than rushing to embrace the latest progressive shibboleth, please step back and allow us the space to identify ourselves on our own terms. I am not Latinx. I am Latino, Latine, Latin or Latin American, and I’ll resist any attempt by someone else to define me con todo mi corazón," Pereira concluded.
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