Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

A friend of mine shared an interesting Facebook post last night. It criticized the term Latinx as an English solution to the question of gender neutrality in the Spanish language. The X, in their opinion, feels unnatural when speaking the language and ignores a solution more based in the Spanish language, the option to use Latine. I felt compelled by their post. It is, of course, just the opinion of one person but after some research it became clear this was an ongoing conversation that I have been ignorant towards.

Latino artist Terry Blas created a beautiful comic published in Vox last October that compares Latinx and Latine. The Pew Research Center published a report this August claiming that only about a quarter of Hispanic Americans are familiar with the term Latinx and only a small 3% utilize the term when describing their communities. There was noticeable differentiation between younger and older survey respondents and between those US born and foreign born. Younger, US born, Hispanic Americans that had attended college were the most familiar with the term and more likely to use it.

So, should you stop using Latinx all together? That’s not a question for me to answer, but I do think it is a good question to pose and a good conversation to have with your Latine friends and students. While reading through these resources I kept imagining a situation in which a young teacher trying to be inclusive uses the term Latinx in conversation with a student’s family and its either not understood or not perceived as intended.

In Arkansas, we also have a decent population of students from Central and South America whose families may not speak Spanish at all- they might speak Portuguese or an Indigenous language like Quechuan. These families are generally dependent on translators that relay messages from teachers first from English to Spanish and then from Spanish to their language. A lot of opportunity for things to get lost in translation. It is important for each of us as educators to do the work of finding out what it looks like to create space for each of our students and their cultural backgrounds in our classrooms. Often with a little investigation we find out our classes are more diverse than we initially envisioned. 

This is obviously a very small issue in comparison to some of the challenges your Latine students may be facing. Supporting students never starts and stops with changing our language though that is an action in our locus of control. To learn more about what support for your Hispanic and Latine students right here in Arkansas might look like you can follow El Centro Hispano. For information on supporting immigrant students and families follow Arkansas United.

Make a commitment this month to learning more about the issues that matter most to your students and share them in the Slack. Together, we should be able to put together a list of resources that we can all use to better support students and families.

Thanks for all you do,