The use of the term “Latinx” has been a divisive issue for some time — and a new poll shows that it’s the least popular signifier among Hispanic and Latino people.
Gallup found that only 4% of Hispanic and Latino Americans prefer the term Latinx, a gender neutral signifier that has gained popularity in some circles in recent years. In contrast, the poll — released Wednesday — found that 15% prefer “Latino” while 23% prefer “Hispanic.”
But most don’t really have a preference, the poll found, with 57% reporting “does not matter.” If they had to choose, most respondents leaned toward “Hispanic,” a term that directly signifies being of Spanish-speaking origin. “Latino,” on the other hand, is less specific, referring instead to Latin America as a whole.
The findings from Gallup are consistent with another survey by the Pew Research Center from 2020, where researchers found that only one in four Hispanic or Latino adults had even heard of the term “Latinx.” Only 3% of them used it to describe themselves.
“This reflects the diversity of the nation’s Hispanic population, and the Hispanic population of the US thinks of itself in many different ways,” Mark Lopez, director of global migration and demography research at Pew Research Center, told CNN last August. “‘Latinx’ is just one of those many dimensions.”
The term “Latinx” was originally intended to be used for folks who fall outside the male/female gender binary, and may not want to identify as “Latino” or “Latina.” Since 2016, the term has grown in popularity online, but it has also been criticized. Though the term may make immediate sense to anyone who speaks English, the “x” replacement doesn’t really translate in Spanish, something that’s been pointed out as early as 2015.
As a result, some people have proposed the term “Latine” instead, which flows better in the language.
The Kid Mero, co-host of the talk show “Desus and Mero,” spoke about the difference in a May 2021 interview with NPR.
“I heard somebody else say Latine. And I was just like, that makes more sense, because it flows better. It sounds right in Spanish,” he said. “You can say it in Spanish.”
And that’s really all that matters, Mero continued.
The Gallup poll also found that 58% of Black Americans do not care which term — either “Black” or “African American” — is used to describe their racial group. Meanwhile, 17% of respondents said they prefer Black, with an equal amount saying they prefer “African American.”
However, those terms are not without their own debates either. “African American,” for example, refers mainly to people in the US with African ancestry, especially those with multiple generations living in the US. “Black” tends to be used as a broader term to refer to all Black people, including Black immigrants, as well as Afro-Latinos or those with ancestry in the Caribbean.
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