Identify yourself as Hispanic or Latinx

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The feeling of being limited to a single identity has always been present for junior Cici Salazar growing up. Checking the boxes of any app that asked questions about race and ethnicity, the first question it always had to answer was “are you Hispanic / Latino?” But those two terms weren’t enough to describe cultures and actual backgrounds not just for her, but for others who identified as Hispanic or Latin.

As an American of Mexican descent, Salazar said she identifies as both Hispanic and part of the Latinx community. But growing up, that wasn’t always the case.

“I say Hispanic first because I was always placed in that category when I was a kid, so that’s what I automatically say these days,” said Salazar.

The term Hispanic refers to people from a Spanish speaking country who speak Spanish, which includes Spain, Argentina, El Salvador, and other countries. The term Latinx refers to the peoples, cultures, and countries of Latin America.

Cultures and language are what distinguish the two terms, but as seen in America, especially with the introduction of the term Latinx, there have been conversations about identity and heritage traceability in Latin America or in Spain. Latinx has emerged particularly in the states as an alternative to the terms Hispanic or Latin, but its use is primarily intended to describe the population of the Hispanic nation.

“The concept of being Latinx or Hispanic has often been politicized,” said Sylvia Muñoz, director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education. “When we say Hispanic, we include anyone who speaks Spanish and was colonized by Spain, and that includes Spain. Latino is an interesting concept because it has a lot to do with culture.

Salazar said cultural representation has always been important to her, but she didn’t really start embracing it until the 2016 presidential election.

“I’ve always struggled with my identity and it wasn’t until my last year of high school and first year at Elon where I would say loud and clear that I am Hispanic,” said Salazar.

In addition to Salazar, the overall number of Elon’s undergraduate Hispanic undergraduates in the 2020-21 academic year was 6.5%. There were 10 Hispanic faculty members at Elon during the 2020-21 academic year.

Using Latinx

The term Latinx first appeared in 2004, according to Google Trends, in an article in Puerto Rican academic literature, and in 2018 it was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. However, the term is not widely used. A Gallup poll in June 2021 found that only 5% of Hispanic adults in the United States prefer the term Latinx, while 37% prefer the term Latino. In addition, 57% prefer Hispanic to both.

The use of the term Latinx, and even whether someone identifies as Hisapnic or Latinx, varies across the country, let alone in other countries.

“If you were to ask this question in Texas, the answer would be completely different as it depends on location and region,” Munoz said.

Spanish teacher Juan Leal-Ugalde has been in Elon for almost three years now, teaching classes on Latin America and Spanish literary art, where he focuses on portraying the historical events that made up Hispanic culture. and Latin American today. In his teachings and around Elon’s campus, Leal-Ugalde said he believes the term Latinx represents communities here, but it’s important to understand its meaning.

“I reinforce the term to represent communities here, but at the same time, I encourage thinking about diversity beyond this term,” said Leal-Ugalde.

Leal-Ugalde also said that while some may disagree with using the term “Hispanic Heritage Month” or even avoid using Latinx, the most important thing to think about is community. and culture that are recognized.

“I think it’s important that everyone understands the culture and their identity. It is important to belong to something –– the Latinx community or the Hispanic community. Their culture is their sense of belonging, ”said Leal-Ugalde.

Numbers of the day

According to the results of the 2020 census on race and ethnicity, the Hispanic or Latin population, which includes people of all races, was 62.1 million in 2020. The Hispanic or Latin American population increased by 23 % since the last census. But while there has been an increase in numbers, Muñoz said she believes understanding the many cultures behind the two terms is what should be recognized as most important.

“We like to put people in boxes,” Munoz said. “We can’t put everyone in one box just because we come from different backgrounds. We need to make this box as inclusive as possible, as rich as possible. “


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