The ‘Latinx’ Label Centers European Heritage. We Should Stop Using It.
Let’s rethink an identity built on destruction, conquest, and the plundering of the Spanish empire
As we approach Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, various organizations, politicians, and corporations celebrate Hispanization or Latinidad. September 15 was chosen as the day to begin this celebratory month because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico’s independence day is September 16. The government’s website for Hispanic Heritage Month notes that Columbus Day, October 12, falls within this month. On the eve of these calendar markers, conversations are occurring within the Latinx community about identity and the colonial concepts that supposedly link Romance language speakers and their descendants throughout the Americas. The concept of Latinx and Hispanic communities center a common European heritage. In celebrating Hispanic or Latino Heritage Month, we are celebrating colonialism.
Both Latinx (or any of its variants) and Hispanic take on different meanings in different locations and within various groups throughout the U.S. But many whose identities may fall under these umbrella terms openly question whether they should cancel the concepts of Latinx and Hispanic communities that center a centuries-old, European project of conquest and empire.
Some indigenous communities feel that they are encouraged to assimilate into the Latino community even if they do not speak Spanish. Odilia Romero, an indigenous Zapotec based in Los Angeles who serves as the co-founder and executive director of Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo (CIELO), doesn’t like how Latinidad is projected on her and feels that there are inadequate choices for identification when it comes to bureaucratic tasks like filling out forms.
“Everywhere we go where there is paperwork to be filled, there is no room for indigenous people,” Romero said. “Not enough effort has been made to count indigenous people from Mexico and Central America, and many of us will be counted as Latinos even if we come from communities that have long existed prior to the arrival of the Spanish.”