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Sticks and Stones: Claiming Our Names

A public radio station in Minnesota promoted a story this week about a high school student who published an op-ed in the New York Times. On the surface, this seems like the normal type of feel-good story that many stations use to fill social media feeds. However, the essay the student wrote is a rejection of the term Latinx from someone “in the community." Which is where the story gets problematic for me.

The student states that he is Latino, but he is a cisgender, heterosexual person which means that any article that places him as a member of the transgender and nonbinary community and claims he is speaking as a member of that community is being disingenuous. In the essay, the student states that his community rejects the term Latinx and so it should never be used – pushing instead for Latine. While this student has the right to hold that opinion, he has asserted on one side that members of the Latino/a community get to decide which terms define them and on the other demanded that the same decision be stripped away from members of a specific sub-community within the larger Latino/a community.