LIFESTYLE

Generation Latinx: College students across U.S. no longer want to be called Latinos

A college organization called Youth Empowerment Alliance at the University of Houston has been hosting meetings and panels to discuss a new term: Latinx.

At Columbia University in New York City, the college group SOL – the Student Organization of Latinos – is in the process of changing the letter L in SOL to stand for Latinx.

And recently in St. Louis, Missouri, students at Washington University rallied administrators to create a Latinx studies program – even though the college already has a Latin American studies program. The initiative did not get approved.

For years, descendants of immigrants from Latin America have debated whether they should be called "Latinos" or "Hispanics." Some even favored "Chicano."

But "Latinx" is the new term that a younger generation of Hispanics who are part of the Founders Generation, or Generation Z, prefer. An all across the country, Hispanic college students are trying to shed the old names in favor of the new one.

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They want a term, they say, that is fully embracing – and neither Latinos nor Hispanic, they say, fits the mold.

“Latinx is a more comfortable word, because it includes everyone,” Karen Lopez, the co-chair of SOL at Columbia, told Fox News Latino.

Latinix started getting some buzz in LBGTQ communities as far back as 2004, but didn’t gain momentum until 2014, according to the Huffington Post.  

“We are trying to make students feel more comfortable with who they are. And having this gender-neutral term helps that,” said Areli Tamayo, a senior at the University of Houston who helps run the college’s Youth Empowerment Alliance. “Latinx includes many groups of people, and it’s easier to identify with.” 

But like its predecessors, Latinx is not embraced by all.

Schools where students have petitioned for a change are so far refusing to rename their Latin American studies programs to include Latinx. Professors have also been reluctant to change the name of their courses.

And even some Hispanic students say the term is ridiculous.

“Under the 'degenderization' of Spanish advocated by proponents of words such as 'Latinx' words such as Latinos, hermanos and niños would be converted into Latinxs, hermanxs and niñxs respectively,” read an opinion piece Swarthmore College’s student-run newspaper, The Phoenix. “This is a blatant form of linguistic imperialism — the forcing of U.S. ideals upon a language in a way that does not grammatically or orally correspond with it.”

The editorial continued, “Ultimately, the problem here is that “Latinx” does not fit within Spanish, and never will. 'X' as a letter at the end of words in Spanish is unpronounceable, not conjugatable and frankly confusing.”

Student activists, however, said they will not give up. They believe that over time people will feel more comfortable with a gender-neutral term. And they say they will continue to try and bring awareness to the strange-looking and -sounding word.

“Change is very difficult,” Columbia's Lopez told FNL. “It’s the 'X' that makes people uncomfortable.” 

Nikki Abrego is a college associate at Fox News Latino. She is a senior at the University of Miami. Instagram: abrego_nikki 

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