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Latinx Resources

Resource guide celebrating the cultural, political, and creative contributions of Latinx peoples in America.

Introduction and Definitions

Latino ‚Ȇ¬†Hispanic

Geographically, Latin America stretches from the Rio Grande River on the United States-Mexican border to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America, and includes several regions in the Caribbean:

  • Caribbean: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico
  • Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama
  • North America: Mexico
  • South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana*, Guyana*, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname*, Uruguay, and Venezuela

*French Guiana, Guyana, and Suriname are a part of mainland South America, but are typically categorized as part of the Caribbean, not Latin America. Click here for more information.

Several terms are used to describe people from Latin America or people of Latin American ancestry, yet they tend to be conflated with one another. When using these terms, it is important to know their definitions and understand the correct time and place to use them.

  • Latino, Latina, Latinx, Latine: Latino, Latina, Latinx, and Latine are geographic terms, which refers to a person from Latin America or of Latin American descent. This includes Brazil, but excludes Spain. The term “Latino” emerged in the 1990s as a form of resistance after scholars began “applying a much more critical lens to colonial history.” Many people opted not to use the word Hispanic because they believed it carried the heavy history of colonialism, slavery, and genocide done by the Spanish. In 1997, Latino officially appeared on government documents as an option. While “Latino” was used to refer to an individual or a group of people, the term has been criticized for not being inclusive, as the letter at the end of the “Latin” indicates the gender: “-o” being masculine, and “-a” being feminine. Latinx, pronounced “Lah-teen-ex," is a gender neutral alternative and shows solidarity to those in LGBTQIA+ community who prefer not to identify as a male or female. Latine, pronounced “Lah-teen-eh,” is another gender neutral alternative to Latinx as it is easier to pronounce it Spanish.
  • Hispanic: Hispanic describes someone who is from or has ancestors from a Spanish-speaking territory or country. “Hispanic” excludes Brazil as Portuguese is the country's primary language, but it includes Spain, even though it’s in Europe. The term originates from 1976, when the U.S. Congress passed a law mandating information about U.S. residents from Spanish-speaking countries to be recorded. Hispanic appears as an “ethnicity” on official forms for government, education, and employment purposes.
  • Spanish: The word Spanish refers to both a language and a nationality. A person who is from Spain or has origins from Spain is Spanish. A Spanish-speaking person is not Spanish; a person who is from or has ancestors from a Spanish-speaking territory or country is Hispanic.
  • Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx: Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx, describes someone who is native of, or descends from, Mexico and who lives in the United States. Chicanx is a chosen identity of some Mexican Americans in the United States. “Chicano” originated and became widely used during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s by many Mexican Americans to express a political stance founded on pride in a shared cultural, ethnic, and Mexican American community identity when they were excluded by mainstream American society. Similarly with Latinx, Chicanx, pronounced “Chee-cahn-EX," is a gender neutral alternative to Chican-a or -o.

Although these terms are the most commonly used, they are far from perfect. For one, their definitions overlap with one another. Second, they do not take into account many other intersectional identities; although the terms describe someone’s broad geographic origins, they tend to not factor in all races, ethnicities or nationalities in the region. For example, many Black and Indigenous peoples from Latin America may not identify with dominant cultures and might not identify as Latinx or Hispanic even if they may fit the criteria listed in the definitions above.

Just as these terms are not all inclusive of the diversity of the Latinx diaspora, do not assume all Latinx people have the same experiences. Latinx people have a breadth of lived experiences depending on where their ancestral ties are from, if and when their family immigrated, and their own intersectional identities like gender, sexual orientation, skin color, and class. Ultimately, there is not one way to act, look, or speak “Latinx.”

The following guide expands on many of the concepts presented in this introduction, but is not meant to encapsulate all experiences of Latinx people. Use this guide as a starting point to learn about the history and diversity of the Latinx community, and for resources supporting Latinx people.

Sources: ”What Is the Difference Between Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish?” by Selena Barrientos, 2020 and “Chicano: What Does The Word Mean And Where Does It Come From?” by Roque Planas, 2012

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