When last surveyed, the results were pretty clear. Hispanics didn’t care to be called Latinx.
More recently, a new, gender-neutral, pan-ethnic label, Latinx, has emerged as an alternative that is used by some news and entertainment outlets, corporations, local governments and universities to describe the nation’s Hispanic population.
However, for the population it is meant to describe, only 23% of U.S. adults who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard of the term Latinx, and just 3% say they use it to describe themselves, according to a nationally representative, bilingual survey of U.S. Hispanic adults conducted in December 2019 by Pew Research Center.
It was the new, hip word that derived from all the critically important intersectional concerns that no one be offended, but ironically the people forgotten in the mix were the people being relabeled. How could Hispanics be so wrong as to not realize this was being done for their sake, to align their label with the myriad life-or-death concerns of people who weren’t Hispanic but believe it their duty to save them from themselves?
As my mother liked to say, she didn’t know she was poor because nobody ever told her. Now Hispanics were being told their label was oppressive, and here were their allies to fix it for them. Why weren’t they on their rodillas thanking their brave, fierce, perpetually on-guard allies for fixing their problematic label with a “new, gender-neutral, pan-ethnic label”?
That was then, last year, and this is now, as Gallup conducted another survey to determine whether Hispanics had woke up yet.
Oh crap, those darn Hispanics still don’t get it. Why won’t they wake up and adopt the word their unduly passionate allies want to ram down their throats for their own good?
Preferences change over time. The argument that words evolve is obviously true. The NAACP wasn’t being racist when the words “colored people” were chosen for its name. Nor was the United Negro College Fund. At various points in time, these were the preferred, the “correct,” words to use to characterize black people, and the names reflect the best choice at the time.
Note that I used “black” rather than “Black” with a capital “B,” which is now in vogue in media style guides. I do so because it’s descriptive, not a title nor a proper noun. Does it matter to a majority of black people? No one has complained to me about it. Perhaps it will evolve that black people are offended by a lower case “b,” in which case I would be happy to change so as not to offend. But while the media has decided this change is critically necessary, have black people? Do they see a problem with it? Did they ever? Or is this just media being scared to death that they not be on the cutting edge of the wokiest words lest they be labeled racist?
But this isn’t about evolution. This is about revolution. These aren’t evolving words, a thing that occurs from time to time organically because of a shift in sentiment, but because roving groups of white, college-indoctrinated pseudo intellectuals are seeking ever more pointless ways to eradicate oppression where no one wanted them to.
Many Hispanic people are proud of their language, their heritage, their past, and that includes such politically incorrect things as words that don’t end in “x” to signal their empathy and virtue to the world. They want to be who they are, who they are proud of being. They’re fine with it. Who are you, social justice warriors, to tell them they’re too stupid, unwoke, and probably a few random -ists if they don’t do what you tell them to do for their own good?
There is a possibility here that the pervasive manipulation of language in the media and by politicians to avoid being called racist and sexist by the loudest shrieker will end up driving a shift, not because anyone Hispanic wants it, but because it’s been “normalized” by constant repetition and pervasive use. For many on the left fringe, this has become a hill to take, even a mountain to die on, to “reimagine” language that eliminates all vestiges of their peculiar vision of oppression by creating some bizarre name rather than doing anything substantive.
The other day, a journalist who had done a bit (slang for prison) for drugs took a swipe at the activists who hate the words “prisoner” and “inmate,” and were demanding that actual ex-cons stop using these “dehumanizing” words.
Her reaction was both funny and brutally real. They don’t give a damn what you call them; just get them out of jail. It reminded me of a point I’ve made often, that no defendant feels better about the fact that they were sentenced to life plus cancer by a black female judge rather than a white male judge. Yet, this identitarian delusion is of critical importance to the perpetually passionate, and it’s so much easier to see from a great distance than substantive change to judges who aren’t biased against defendants, including those Hispanic ones who no more enjoy sitting in a cell forever than anyone else no matter what label the Bureau of Prisons gives them.
It’s understandable that people feel the persistent need to “do something” to “discover” and “fix” things that aren’t broken. After all, if everything is racist, then shouldn’t we replace one short word with three long ones or rid the language of a group of which they’re not a member of its colonially oppressive rules lest someone at its margins feels erased? They mean well, as do most people who would beat others into submission because they believe that their passionate grievances demand change, and if the beneficiaries of their virtuous largesse aren’t as enlightened as they are, is it not their duty to ram their fix down other people’s throats?
Maybe, if enough people use the word “Latinx” enough, if the media normalizes this word lest black-clad protesters break down the doors of the Associated Press, it will become the new normal. But if so, it won’t be because Hispanic people asked for it, or the language simply “evolved.” Just because it’s new and different, just because it’s change, does not make it progress.
As the old joke went, “call me anything but late for dinner.” Why can’t the woke let Hispanic people choose their own label, including keep the one they already use and prefer? The word “Hispanic” works fine for “Latinx.” Don’t fix it.