A 16-year-old student from St. Paul recently wrote an editorial calling the term Latinx “problematic” and “culturally offensive.”
The op-ed, titled “For most Latinos, Latinx does not mark the spot,” was published by The New York Times and was one of 10 winners of the Annual Student Editorial Contest by the Learning Network.
Evan Odegard Pereira, who attends Nova Classical Academy in St. Paul, offers a critical review of the use of the word Latinx in his editorial, citing that just 3% of Latinos in the United States use the term, according to a Pew Research Study from 2020.
Merriam-Webster defines Latinx as a term for “those of Latin American descent who do not identify as being of the male or female gender or who simply don’t want to be identified by gender.” However, Pereira states that the term is an “artificial label that defies the basic rules of Spanish pronunciation” and feels “foreign and imposed.”
Google trends note that the term Latinx was first used in 2004; however, before the term Latinx came the term “Latin@,” combining the “o” and “a” in “Latino” and “Latina.” But the “@” symbol proved to be difficult to pronounce within the new term.
“Many of us find Latinx confusing or culturally offensive,” Pereira writes, adding that the “forced change” of the term is a form of “linguistic imperialism” that “perpetuates cultural erasure.”
Pereira concludes his editorial by directly speaking to “would-be allies,” saying that “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.”
Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.