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What is Latinx? Is it catching on among Latinos?

'One label can make or break a spirit,' magazine founder says
Posted at 1:57 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 23:37:41-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — You may have heard the term "Latinx."

It's a gender-neutral word used to describe people who identify as Latinos. But who is using it, and why is it causing a debate?

"On today's episode. I'm going to be interviewing a Latinx skateboarder, Steven Piñiero," said Cristina Areu, during her Catalina Stars Young and Famous podcast on Feb. 5.

The 9-year-old podcaster can't get enough of the letter "x."

"I think it’s cool having “x” in there, for example, Xbox," Cristina said.

Cristina's podcast revolves around interviewing young Hispanic and Latino celebrities.

"I tell them this podcast is made by Latinx kids for Latinx kids about Latinx kids," Cristina said.

"And they seem to really like that term?" asked WPTV's Michelle Quesada.

"Yeah, nobody has complained," answered Cristina.

Cristina Areu
Cristina Areu is a 9-year-old podcaster that creates a show that she says "is made by Latinx kids for Latinx kids about Latinx kids."

The term "Latinx" is used to refer to people who identify with Latin American ethnicity, but void of any gender reference.

"My 11-year-old said, 'Why are we all men? When there's one man in the room, but there are five women, why do we instantly become Latinos? So, we're not Latinas because one man is in the room?'" said Cathy Areu, Journalist and Founder of Latina Magazine, Catalina.

Areu said her two daughters, Cristina and Sofia, are running with Latinx. She has also taken a liking to using the term in her magazine.

"One word can just make or break a sentence. One label can make or break a spirit," Areu said.

But is Latinx catching on? According to the Pew Research Center, about one in four Hispanics in the U.S. have heard of Latinx and only about 3 percent use it. When it comes to labeling a diverse group of people such as Hispanics and Latinos, one word doesn't seem to fit all.

"Hispanic, Latino, Latiné, Latinx, Latini, Latinu, Latin@," said Dr. Cristobal Salinas, Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University while lisitng all the terms people from Latin America are using.

Salinas' field of study is race and ethnicity.

"When I was in Puerto Rico collecting data, I engaged with a historian. It was really important, this experience. When I asked, 'How do you feel about the term Latinx?' This historian said, 'Here we go again, the United States trying to colonize us, trying to intoxicate our language,'" Salinas said.

Salinas explains most Hispanics and Latinos prefer to identify with their country of origin, rather than be grouped into one label.

"We are such a complex community," Salinas added.

But when it comes to one unifying identifier, younger generations who question the masculine dominance of words in the Spanish language are more likely to embrace the "x."

"It was a no-brainer for Cristina. She's young. She's 9. X is cool," Areu said.

Whether you like the "x" or not, Salinas said it's best to be cautious when using labels.

"Words matter right? So, one of the things I always ask people, or when people ask me, "What do we use? Hispanic, Latino, Latinx, Latiné?' Because the terminology is evolving. It's better to ask than to make assumptions,” said Dr. Salinas.