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Only 2 percent of those polled refer to themselves as Latinx, while 68 percent call themselves "Hispanic" and 21 percent favored "Latino" or "Latina" to describe their ethnic background, according to the survey from Bendixen & Amandi International, a top Democratic firm specializing in Latino outreach.
But here's something I learned while researching my forthcoming book on American racial classifications: Most Hispanics/Latinos/Latinxers (?) prefer none of those terms. Americans of Spanish-speaking ancestry overwhelmingly prefer to be labeled by their country of origin or "just American" rather than as Hispanic or Latino. Most accept Hispanic or Latino as a secondary identity, though Americans with only partial Hispanic ancestry often reject those labels. See G. Cristina Mora, Making Hispanics: How Activists, Bureaucrats & Media Constructed a New American Identity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 6.
I often see conservatives complain that "Latinx" is a made-up term, not used by actual Hispanics/Latinos. To a large extent that's true, but it was also true fifty-sixty years ago of "Hispanic" and "Latino." Hispanic in particular was almost never used to describe ethnicity, and the terms were unknown in Spanish-speaking countries, and was essentially invented to give the government a way to jointly classify people formerly known as "Cubans," "Mexicans," and "Puerto Ricans," sometimes collectively called "Spanish-surnamed" or "Spanish" Americans.
I generally think we should, within reason, call people what they want to be called. So it bears keeping in mind that almost everyone in the relevant group totally rejects "Latinx," and most would prefer to be known as Americans or [hyphneated]-Americans by their country of origin, rather than as Hispanics or Latinos.
David Bernstein is the University Professor and the Executive Director of the Liberty & Law Center at the Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University.
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