As if more evidence were needed, yet another poll of Hispanic voters released on Monday demonstrated what any sentient observer of political trends already knew: “Latinx” is a loser.

The survey of 800 Hispanic voters conducted in late November found that just 2 percent of this ethnic group self-identify as “Latinx.” By contrast, two-thirds call themselves “Hispanic” and just over one-fifth prefer “Latina/Latino.” This recently innovated ethnic identifier isn’t just underutilized by the group it ostensibly describes; it is a source of resentment among many in that very group. While 57 percent of Hispanics are ambivalent toward the phrase, 40 percent are “a little,” “somewhat,” or very offended by the term (including 39 percent of self-described Democratic Hispanics). Though a plurality of Hispanic voters said that their vote would not be influenced by the word, 30 percent said they would be less likely to support a politician who described Hispanic voters as “Latinx.”

Democrats invested in winning political office know this is a problem, particularly as Republicans are making electoral inroads with Latino voters. Kristian Ramos, a Democratic strategist focused on Hispanic outreach, told Politico that the “general population” finds a phrase that native Romance language speakers cannot even pronounce “mystifying and ridiculous.” “Democrats are helping Republicans make them look out of touch,” former Univision president Joaquin Blaya confessed. “To be clear my office is not allowed to use ‘Latinx’ in official communications,” Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego averred. “When Latino politicos use the term, it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use.”

This a valuable diagnosis. If, however, the Democratic Party resolves to banish a phrase that has become a metaphor for the party’s attachment to an obscure ideology that flattens the complexities of identity into discrete and immutable political categories, it’s not enough to focus on political venues. If every politician and media outlet in America stopped using the word tomorrow, it would still be a ubiquitous feature of apolitical life.

If you’re an HBO Max subscriber, you were confronted with a vertical featuring short films deemed “Latinx” despite the fact that they were distributed in partnership with the “Official Latino Film and Arts Festival.” Hulu subscribers can filter their preferences to select for entertainment with “Latinx leads.” Disney+ hopes viewers will tune in for their offerings that celebrate “Latinx Heritage Month.” The commitment to “LatinX” programming among entertainment providers remains total, as is the industry committed to catering to Hispanic media consumers.

Creatives, too, have endorsed this new linguistic display of fealty to the tenets of modern progressivism. In late 2020, 270 prominent creators, producers, writers, and performers in the Hispanic community affixed their names to a statement affirming their membership in the “Latinx community” and assuming ownership of those non-Hispanic communities in which “many…identify as Latinx” while demanding more representation in Hollywood. Ahead of a new and highly-anticipated film adaptation of the Broadway musical West Side Story, Stephen Spielberg promised that a “100 percent Latinx” cast would portray the members of the fictional Puerto Rican gang the Sharks. The font from which the highest-grossing genre of major motion pictures springs, Marvel Comics, has turned “the spotlight to Latinx heroes.” In 2022, a new installment of the “Doctor Strange” series will feature America Chavez, a character brands as a representation of “queer Latinx” in America.

Restaurant-goers in major metros such as downtown Austin, Texas, enjoy the fare provided by famed restaurateurs like Gabriela Bucio. “I represent the Latinx community down here,” said the owner of Gabriella’s Group, which includes a variety of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. San Diego, too, has what the city’s tourism authority describes as “Latinx and Hispanic owned” restaurants—a distinction with a previously indistinguishable difference. Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau is just as invested in promoting local proprietors offering traditional “Latinx flavors.”

Even lifestyle brands that supposedly exist outside politics have been sucked in the vortex of left-wing identity politics. The e-commerce company Esty promotes “Latinx clothing.” Good Housekeeping admonishes readers who prefer conventional descriptions for people of Hispanic origin because they can be “exclusionary and inequitable.” Better Homes & Gardens advertises “Latinx”-branded activist chic throw pillows. National Geographic prefaces the section of its resource library dedicated to “Hispanic Latinx Heritage” with a throat-clearing acknowledgment of “the systemic discrimination Latinx/a/o and Hispanic people face in our nation.” As Oprah’s flagship website explains to its credulous readers, “Latinx” is supposed to extirpate conventions such as the genders that Romance languages assign to nouns and adjectives. If there is a backlash against the term, it is “hatred” that “generally comes from conservative members of the community,” said Dr. Luisa Ortiz Pérez.

From its inception, “Latinx” was designed to be provocative. As the writer and activist, César Vargas, wrote of his fellow Hispanics who reject the term: “You are our weakest link toward true progress, reciprocity, and inclusivity. And for that, you are dismissed. Vamoose. Begone. Get to steppin’. Corran camino. And take your shitty misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic family members with you.” The tables have turned. Hispanics, and the institutions with an instinct toward self-preservation who seek their support, are now seeking to extirpate the phrase from all but the most radicalized venues. But the left’s cultural dominance ensured that this word proliferated across the American cultural landscape before a consensus around its usefulness had been established. Relegating it to the ash heap of bad ideas won’t be so easy.

+ A A -
You may also like
Share via
Copy link