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Dr. Jose Medina, a Linguistics Specialist, Explains the Controversy With the Term ‘Latinx’

Term Latinx BELatina
Photo courtesy of BELatina.

It is no secret that the neologism “Latinx” has been the subject of controversy in the United States. Between those who believe it is a Democratic political strategy and those who refuse to label people of Latinx heritage as anything other than “Latinos,” intersectionality in language seems to fall short in the effort.

However, for Dr. Jose Medina, language researcher, and author, it is an issue of identity.

In conversation with ABC News, Medina explained how it is a constant search for more inclusive terminologies to describe “such a broad and complex group of people” with a single term.

“As an openly queer, Latinx, Latine, Spanglish-speaking language researcher of the world, to me that intersectionality is really, really important,” said Medina.

“The reason why that’s so important is that no one really gets to choose how somebody self-identifies,” he added.

Taking into account recent polls and surveys that have found a significant disparity in public opinion on the term “Latinx,” Medina explained that it is not a neologism born in the United States.

“There is no definite beginning to the term Latinx here in the United States. Some people feel like it started to appear in academia, specifically Latinx writers, around 2004,” said Medina. “But the truth is that there are others that point to scholars and researchers in Puerto Rico, in Central America, South America, and other parts of the Caribbean that were actually using the ‘X’ and also the ‘at’ sign to be more inclusive in their studies and their work.”

Considering the characteristics of the new generations, the term “Latinx” seems to be just the beginning of a search for identity in a community known for breaking the mold and paving the way for those who follow.

“There are a lot of folks that actually are saying that the Latinx term should not be used because it cannot be conjugated in Español. But the truth is that, if we really stop to think about it, we were colonized from the moment that the Spaniards came to the Americas and took away Indigenous tongues,” said Medina. “All of these attacks on really utilizing and leveraging linguistic liberation as a way to value intersectionality — [it’s] something that each and every one of us should defend, not oppose.”

With information from ABC News.