The X Factor

Over the years, the “correct” words used to inoffensively refer to certain groups have changed with some regularity. There was a time when a decent person would call a black person a “negro,” as that was the fashion. Now, it’s African American or black. Or Black, with a capital “B,” although there doesn’t seem to be much consistency at the moment. But don’t you dare use the word “negro.”

Fair enough. When there is no purpose to offend anyone, most of us are happy to use whatever word is preferred. And if that word later changes, that’s fine too.

But then came “Latinx.” It didn’t come from my Hispanic friends or clients, but from the media.

On the other hand, nobody save a few carping conservatives found anything unusual when Elizabeth Warren, possible Democratic front-runner, began conducting her outreach to Hispanic voters using the term “Latinx.” (Though she did take a little flak, after the first Democratic debate, for pronouncing it “Latin-X.”)

But if Warren’s linguistic move seemed normal to journalists — in our world, the phrase “Latinx” is increasingly commonplace — it’s still a curious one for a politician doing outreach. There’s very little evidence that “Latinx” is a thing that many Hispanics or Latinos call themselves, at least in the kind of numbers that normally determine how political candidates talk.

The rationale behind Latinx was obvious. Spanish words are masculine or feminine, and replacing the last vowel with an “X” made them gender neutral. What was curious about the choice was that there was no necessary nexus between being Spanish speaking and being so concerned about gender neutrality, but whatever. If that’s what people of Hispanic heritage preferred to be called, that’s cool. Except it turned out that it wasn’t.

[L]ast week a progressive pollster ran the numbers and found that it hasn’t caught on at all: “Despite its usage by academics and cultural influencers, 98 percent of Latinos prefer other terms to describe their ethnicity. Only 2 percent of our respondents said the label accurately describes them, making it the least popular ethnic label among Latinos.”

The poll shows that the preferred word was “Hispanic.” This was what my friends and clients told me. When I asked one pal if he wanted to be called Latinx, his reaction was “fuck you, maricon.” He was kinda cool with what he was, and didn’t really take well to having his language neutered.

The point here isn’t really whether Latinx is a good word or a bad word, or whether the ungendering of romance languages is performative or substantive. The point is that whoever is coming up with these notions of what is, or is not, acceptable, is substituting their own sensibilities for the poor oppressed and marginalized people who apparently can’t speak for themselves.

But just as often the language of P.C. has more to do with imposing elite norms of discourse on a wider population that neither necessarily wants them nor fully understands their purpose. This is a particular issue as highly educated white liberals become more progressive on racial issues than many African-Americans and Hispanics; in that context the language that dominates progressivism often emerges out of a dialogue among minority activists and academics and well-meaning white liberals, without much engagement with the larger minority population, its assumptions and habits and beliefs.

The same folks who see racism or sexism under every rock, on behalf of others to prove their wokeness and allyship, believe themselves entitled to dictate the new word choices for those of us insufficiently woke, and for those on whose behalf their well-intended revisionism is meant. It’s not that they are wrong, but that they are so deep and smart that the poor Hispanics, the 98% of them who don’t want their help, just don’t realize the worthiness of their progressive fixes.

Then again, for the 2% of Hispanics for whom Latinx is the only word that doesn’t do violence to their ears, why shouldn’t the other 98% just suck it up and live with this new woke word for their sake? Aside from the fact that this new word erases their language.

Either way, it makes no difference to me. If Hispanics prefer Latinx, so be it. If I think it’s just another childish indulgence of the woke, so what? It’s not my call. It’s their call. Except Hispanics want nothing to do with it either, so apparently it’s the call of Woke Elites on behalf of the as-yet insufficiently woke Latinx folk.

And even if 98% of Hispanics aren’t into it yet, they will surely be when the next bureaucracy, established at the Ministry of Truth, issues its guidance and the Hispanic heretics are marched before it to genuflect on their offensiveness. After all, who better to make sure Hispanics are called by the properly inoffensive word Latinx than their White Knights of Wokeness?

33 thoughts on “The X Factor

  1. Elpey P.

    “Latinx” is an othering label for a socially constructed racial category favored primarily by paternalistic (i.e., supremacist) white-identifying elitists and their allies. I give it ten years.

    Plus “Latini” is much easier to pronounce.

  2. B. McLeod

    At least somebody finally gave a crap to ask the Latinx. The [Ed. Notes] just had “activists” choose for them.

      1. B. McLeod

        If the ultimate aim is to inculcate Latin culture with the required “tolerance” for [Ed. Notes], blanks and flippers by attacking and modifying all gender-related aspects of Spanish language, “progressives” are going to have one Hell of a fight on their hands. Note that this same issue will come up with a number of other languages having similar gender-dependent conventions. The pompous, sanctimonious morons pushing this shit will find themselves taking fire from all corners of the intersectional “big tent” before they are done.

      1. Richard G. Kopf

        You had to go there.

        Just another slur against those who created the “peoples car” and who willingly suffered really uncomfortable short pants.

        By the way, your reference to “White Knights” was not lost on me. While it was genius, it shows the depravity to which you are willing to Skink.

        1. Skink

          Don’t involve me in your petty xenophobic stuff. Besides, in the right hands, depravity is an absolutely unassailable virtue.

      2. F. Lee Billy

        Germanic-depressive, she said. It is diagnosible by accredited clinicians under supervised conditions. Germanic warfare is one of our highest priorities; we take it very seriously. Your calls are important to us.

  3. delurking

    “…replacing the last vowel with an “X” made them gender neutral. ”

    But, but, … we have had a gender neutral version of that word for a long time: Latin.
    As in: Latin America, Latin dance, Latin food, etc.

    1. Ken

      Got to admit, this was my first thought the when somebody finally explained to me that LatinX wasn’t a character from Speed Racer.

  4. Guitardave

    It all started back in the 90’s wave of PC… when the normally bland, accent-sterile newscasters suddenly started pronouncing Mexico like they grew up in the toughest Barrio…….blah,blah, blah, May-he-co, blah, blah.
    I found it somewhat disturbing, and glaringly obvious that it was a mandate from above….a bit surreal… every time they saw certain special words they were suddenly possessed by a bad movie version of Poncho Villa for gawdsakes. The PC police had commandeered the teleprompters.
    I guess you have teach them how to properly enunciate words before you tell them which ones you can and can’t say.

    1. SHG Post author

      Tourist asked the Hawaiian Jew how to properly pronounce “Hawaii.”

      Is it “Ha-why-ee” or “Ha-vye-ee”?

      “Ha-vye-ee,” he replied.

      “Oh, thank you so much for clearing that up.”

      “You’re velcome.”

    2. B. McLeod

      Once some virtue-signaling imbecile gets it into the AP Style Manual, it is official, media duck-speak, and they are required to conform.

  5. PseudonymousKid

    Bravo, Pa. You’ve caught the bourgeoisie establishment trying to create artificial divisions when the only distinction that matters is between proles and their bourgeois enemies. The establishment doesn’t really care what to call Hispanics or Latinos or what they call themselves so long as it prevents them from realizing that the vast majority are working class and have more in common with their working class brethren in other nations than they think. This conflict is a spook. The only real conflict is the class kind. You are woker than woke.

    1. SHG Post author

      Oddly, you’re on to something (I told your mother it would eventually happen!). As it turns out, not all black and Hispanic people are fans of many progressive ideas. Sure, they like eliminating racism and sexism (just like us mean old liberals), but they also aspire to success, care about their families and friends, and want to enjoy life. They don’t want to blow up the world, as much as enjoy its beneficence, as well they should.

      Most people want to become bourgie because it’s far better than living in constant misery, poverty and mediocrity. I know, right?

      1. PseudonymousKid

        I actually managed to weave together a worthwhile overarching point with Marxist vocabulary on SJ without getting smacked down too hard? Now my journal gets to hear about how today is so very special!

        Peace, land, and bread are more important than politically correct language. But that’s exactly what a white male brocialist would say, so even I won’t be able to escape the purge. Where is the party that cares about workers?

    2. B. McLeod

      It is the lumpen slackoisie. Like the high priests in ancient societies, they push these ideological concepts as their “career,” so that they never have to try to get a real job with their Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Certificate in Social Justice.

  6. szr

    The majority of my clients are hispanic; if I started calling them “Latinx,” they would likely respond with a mix of confusion and hostility. Confusion because most wouldn’t know what “Latinx” means. Hostility because why wouldn’t I just call them what they wanted to be called. And they would be right to be annoyed with me for focusing on this silliness rather than their cases.

    Were I more talented, I would write a mock “Latinx client interview” similar to the one that landed Appellate Squawk in trouble with the gender police.

  7. Rendall

    American Indian friends told me: “Don’t say Native American. We’re Indians. Always have been, always will be.” So I called them Indians. I called all the Indians Indian.

    Some white people gave me a hard time about it: “Indian is a racial slur. Use the term ‘Native American'”. “No”, I would say, “I’ve been asked by Indians to say Indian”

    Later, a Native American friend told me: “I prefer the term Native American. Indian is a racial slur.”

    I said: “Then I will use Native American. Other friends are pretty clear they want to be called Indian, though.”

    She told me: “Don’t use Indian. Indian is preferred by ignorant people from the reservation who don’t understand the history of that term.”

  8. Federico Wibmer

    It’s always interesting when this supposed attempt at “inclusivity” just ends up potentially making other people feel excluded or just dumbfounded. I realize for the woke crowd Latinos, a masculine plural, being used to include every gender (or lack thereof), as happens in Romance languages, is now beyond the pale, but they don’t seem to realize it’s not a problem with the language but with their mindsets. After a lengthy facebook “discussion” with my more woke friends I have obviously realized the error of my ways when appeals to emotions, authority, and straw man arguments cleansed me of my wrongthink.

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