Dr. Juhanna Rogers, PH.D
Beyond One Identity: The Importance of Name Recognition and Intercultural Awareness
Sept. 15 kicked off Latinx Heritage Month, a dedicated time to celebrate the contributions and heritage of Latinx and Latino-identified communities across the world. It wasn’t until 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson’s Proclamation 3869 1 declared a week-long recognition of cultures, histories and achievements of citizens of Latinx origin to America’s national heritage, which has since evolved into a month-long commemoration tied to the independence anniversaries of several Latin American nations. This celebration leads us to an imperative opportunity to become more conscious, open and knowledgeable about the history of the Latinx community, while dispelling ignorance, prejudice and bias.
As an organization, we are taking active steps to become more aware of language and terms, especially with regards to our RESI work. One of those conscious steps includes adopting the inclusive term “Latinx” rather than Hispanic or Latino to represent the identities of nonbinary, gender-nonconforming and gender-expansive people. As noted by Juliana Martínez, author and assistant professor at American University, oftentimes definitions and labels can be problematic when talking about “diversity and inclusion” for many reasons. For example, the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” have implicit discriminatory origins, dating back to colonialism and have become institutionalized through the U.S Census. Both terms may not encompass all identities and populations they have been traditionally referred to – including U.S born citizens of all generations like descendants of Latin American migrants and immigrants.2
It’s more important than ever for past, present and future generations to understand the changing demographics to be culturally competent. According to the 2020 U.S Census, the Latinx population doubled during the past three decades and are believed to account for half of the nation’s growth since 2010.3 Watch this clip from NBC News, Defining Latino: Young People Talk Identity, Belonging, which highlights why it is so important. When watching this clip, think about how you view yourself.
We’re stepping into the remainder of the year with action-oriented, positive goals designed to continue educating and raising awareness on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) topics. We are also furthering our commitment to DEI efforts by leading a series of first ever Race Dialogue Sessions this fall for our clients, specifically exploring the Latinx and Asian/Pacific Islander experience. The sessions are designed to provide a deep dive into historical and social factors that have influenced our perspective on these identities as a nation, with ways to unpack, think critically and drive change.
As we commemorate the contributions, rich heritage, and culture of the Latinx community and continue to advance DEI in the workplace and our lives, take some time to understand the difference between terms, noted below, that are often intertwined with race, politics, religion, history, and social and economic norms. Remember, we’re all in this together!
Understanding Terms That Define Identities
“Hispanic” - Colonially rooted term used to refer to the largest and one of the most diverse evolving minorities in the U.S. With origins of Spanish colonialism in America, this term can exclude Indigenous, Brazilian and other non-Spanish-speaking groups. Presently, this term is known to be derogatory or racist, based on its history.
“Latino” - This inclusive term does not relate to language and embraces the whole region. Gender-wise, the use of masculine form as universal, excludes many other groups of identities.
“Latinx” - The newest and most inclusive term that has evolved over the years is gender-expansive and gender-nonconforming. This term provides fluidity by examining the binary nature of the Spanish-language term Latino/a. The “X” in Latinx had provided a platform to varied identities, that is also used in the term “Chicanx (o/a).
Source: The Human Rights Campaign
Racial equity and social impact initiatives, DEI training courses and consultation services from CenterState CEO are available. Contact Dr. Juhanna Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.