The new governor of Alabama, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has banned the word Latinx in state government business.
In a January executive order she proclaimed:
WHEREAS: Ethnically insensitive and pejorative language has no place in official government documents or government employee titles;
WHEREAS: The government has a responsibility to respect its citizens and use ethnically appropriate language, particularly when referring to ethnic minorities;
WHEREAS: According to Pew Research, only three percent of American Latinos and Hispanics use the word “Latinx” to describe themselves;
WHEREAS: The Real Academia Española, the Madrid-based institution which governs the Spanish language, has officially rejected the use of “x” as an alternative to “o” and “a” in Spanish;
WHEREAS: One can no more easily remove gender from Spanish and other romance languages than one can remove vowels and verbs from English; and
WHEREAS: It is the policy of the Governor’s administration to prohibit the use of culturally insensitive words for official state government business.
It is true few Latinos/as/xs use Latinx and the Real Real Academia Española has rejected it. What is not true is that Latinx is a culturally insensitive word. It’s the opposite.
“The term Latinx is gender neutral ethnic identity marker that transcends beyond traditional binary identifiers of masculine and feminine,” wrote Nathian Shae Rodriguez, a journalism professor at San Diego State University.
Rodriguez explained in a book chapter “Intersectional Latinx/a/o: Journalism Coverage & the LGBTQ Community” that the term emerged online in the early 200s within LGBTQ communities of color. The term has expanded beyond LGBTQ identities and is meant to be an inclusive term that encompasses identities of ability and disability, migration, age, ethnicities, citizenship and more.
The term is meant to be inclusive and while it is not widely used within the diverse Latino/a/x communities, we should respect those who people use it.
And it certainly should not be banned in Arkansas, where Latinos are 8% of the population.
Republican governors, including Huckabee Sanders, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, are waging a cultural and political war against immigrants and people of color.
DeSantis’ administration recently sent a letter to the College Board, which administers the SAT and other exams, rejecting a plan for an AP African American Studies course. DeSantis’ administration claimed that it “significantly lacks educational value.”
Florida currently offers AP history courses in European History, Art History, Japanese Language and Culture, German Language and Culture, Italian Language and Culture, and Spanish Language and Culture.
Florida also is one of a growing number of states that have banned public schools from teaching Critical Race Theory.
Since January 2021, 42 states have introduced bills, or taken other measures to restrict teaching Critical Race Theory, or to limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism, according to an Education Week analysis. Eighteen states have imposed bans and restrictions either through legislation or other avenues.
DeSantis’ and Abbott also have shown their disdain for migrants busing them out of state, including a Christmas Eve stunt to drop migrants off in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ house in Washington, D.C.
All of this political theater may win them votes with conservatives. This is morally reprehensible.
These politicians are merely mimicking Donald Trump, who routinely has attacked and insulted Latinos, immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, women, Muslims and others.
We can’t stay silent in the face of these attacks on our communities.