Domingo GarcÃa, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Latin America’s oldest civil rights organization, called on staff and board members to remove the word “Latinx” from official communications from the group.
GarcÃa sent the directive in an email Wednesday evening, addressed to Sindy Benavides, CEO of the league; David Cruz, its communications director; and the board of directors of LULAC.
“Let’s stop using Latinx in all official communications,” GarcÃa said, adding that he is “very different” from almost all Latinos.
The email included a link to an editorial from the Miami Herald with the headline: âThe ‘Latinx community’ don’t want to be called ‘Latinx’. Forget it, progressives. “
âThe reality is that there is very little to no support for its use and it is sort of seen as something used inside the Beltway or in the settings of the Ivy League tower, while LULAC represents always Jose and MarÃa on Main Street in the neighborhood and we have to do Sure, we talk to them the way they talk to each other, âGarcÃa said in a phone interview with NBC News.
“I don’t know of any abuelita (grandmother) who calls her granddaughter, ‘Hey you Latinx, I’m going to throw you chancla (flip-flop).’ It just doesn’t happen, âhe said.
LULAC does not oppose people and groups who identify with Latinx, Mexican, Latin American or other terms, Garcia said. But as a national civil rights organization trying to appeal to as many Latinos and Hispanics as possible, LULAC needs to keep the term everyone uses in everyday discourse, he said.
GarcÃa said he is not prohibiting the use of Latinx within the organization.
The directive comes days after a poll by Democratic polling firm Bendixen & Amandi found that 30% of Hispanic voters are less likely to support a politician or political organization using the word.
There has long been a debate over the word Latinx, which aims to promote inclusiveness and move away from gender-specific words in Spanish, where those ending in “o” are male and those ending in “a “are women. In plural uses, words such as Latinos include both genders.
For many of its users, Latinx includes people who identify outside of the gender binary, such as transgender people or those who are gender fluent. It is also considered a term “decolonizer”, deemphasizing the Spanish colonial rule of Latin America in the word “Hispanic”.
In 2017, NBC Latino reported that Latinx “has appeared in mainstream media like the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today, and is also increasingly visible in Hispanic media.”
According to âLatinx: A Brief Handbook,â by Arlene Gamio Cuervo of the Princeton LGBT Center, Latinx first appeared in 2004 as a replacement for Latin @, which didn’t catch on. It returned around 2014 and its popularity soared in 2015, the manual says.
However, last summer, the Pew Research Center found that one in four adults who identified as Latino or Hispanic had heard of “Latinx,” but only 3% used it.
Latinx is often seen as a generational term, used by young Latinos as they sought to define their activism, greater gender inclusion and multiculturalism, and their movement for civil rights and immigration rights.
The use of Latinx by Millennials and Gen Z is somewhat similar to the adoption of “Chicano” by young, mostly Mexican-American civil rights activists of the 1960s and 1970s.
Chicano, too, hasn’t always been an accepted term, but there are a lot of Latinos out there who haven’t stopped using it and it’s experiencing some kind of rebirth.
âWhen I was growing up I was Chicano and the older generation was Mexican-American, and Mexican-Americans and Hispanics continue to be used to this day and Chicano kind of faded away,â GarcÃa said.
Embrace Latinx, when the debate “shouldn’t divide us”
The Poder Latinx Group is an Arizona-based progressive group focused on increasing progressive Latino voters. The group adopted the term because it recognizes Latino diversity, including LGBTQ or Black Latinos, who are often overlooked, said Yadira Sanchez, co-executive director of the group.
As we work to improve the electoral power of Latinos, “we want to be sure that we speak to young people and we have seen more and more young Latinos and progressives who look to the inclusiveness of our movement,” said Sanchez. She noted that about 40% of eligible Latino voters are Millennials or Generation Z.
She added that the group tailors its messages to the group they are targeting, as debates over how to define community “should not divide us.”
In the Bendixen & Amandi poll, 51% of Latinos between the ages of 18 and 29, who would include Gen Z and younger Millennials, said it wouldn’t make any difference to them if a politician or organization used Latinx to describe the Latino community.
But 30 percent said they would be less likely to support the politician or group and 14 percent said they would be more likely to do so.
Additionally, in the 18-29 age group, only 4% said Latinx was the closest to describing their ethnicity, while 66% chose Hispanic.
The 800-person survey included interviews with 148 Latinos between the ages of 18 and 29. The margin of error for the age group was plus or minus 8 percent.
LULAC was founded in 1929 and is the oldest Latin American civil rights organization in the United States. He is originally from Texas, in response to government sanctioned discrimination and brutality against Mexican Americans. Three groups merged to form LULAC.
Business and civic leaders and veterans, described in a LULAC history book as economic conservatives, were among its original founders.
Although not as progressive as some groups, the group has supported many progressive positions.
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