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Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month

A curated multimedia guide to celebrate Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month.

Key Terms

Afro-Latino/a/x

a person/people of African and Latin American descent (ending can be altered to indicate masculine/feminine/nonbinary. See: Latinx) 

Cultural context: 

adopted as a response to the cultural oppression of the Black diaspora in Latin American and the Caribbean while discussing issues of ethnicity, human rights, and the history of enslaved people.


Chicano/a/x

an American of Mexican origin or descent (ending can be altered to indicate masculine/feminine/nonbinary. See: Latinx) 

Cultural context: 

Previously used as a xenophobic slur against Mexican immigrants, this term was reclaimed by anti-assimilation Mexican activists living in the United States who wanted to highlight and celebrate their culture and identity. It became an important term in facilitating political organization and social justice in the Mexican community.


Hispanic 

relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, especially those of Latin America

Cultural context: 

tends to be exclusionary of non-Spanish speakers, particularly Brazilians and indigenous groups. Some activist groups also are against using a cultural descriptor that so heavily references the country responsible for colonizing most of Latin America.


Latino/a

a person of Latin American origin or descent, with gender indicated by the ending -o or -a. Latino as an adjective reflects the acceptance of the -o ending in Spanish to describe a group of people that includes men, or as a default when gender is not specified. 

Cultural context:

some have retired the masculine and feminine endings as a way to combat gender exclusivity and include nonbinary individuals.


Latinx 

a person/people of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina).

Cultural context: 

helpful in allowing inclusion of nonbinary Latin Americans, but the community is split on the use of the term. A 2020 study from Pew Research shows that only 3% of Latin Americans use "Latinx." Younger people are more likely to have heard of the term and to use it in their daily life. Generational differences play a strong role in whether or not it is embraced.


Spanish 

  1. relating to Spain, its people, or its language.

  2. a Romance language spoken in Spain and in much of Central and South America (except Brazil) and several other countries. It is the second most widely spoken first language in the world, with more than 400 million speakers.

Cultural context: 

Often misused by non-Latin Americans as an ethnic descriptor for anyone from the Spanish speaking world, when in fact it can only be used in that capacity to describe a person from Spain. (i.e. a person from Latin America speaks Spanish--they are not Spanish.)

Sources & Further Reading