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Latinx vs. Hispanic: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to identity, nuance is critical. This is why there are still disputes about the term “BIPOC,” the relationship between race and ethnicity and what’s considered a problematic question (because “What are you?” and “Where are you *really* from?” is a bad way of misidentifying someone). But the distinction between Latinx vs. Hispanic and which term is more appropriate as an identifier (whether you’re talking about yourself, a friend or a celebrity in the public eye) remains a popular debate. So we’re doing a deep dive of each term and its history to find out what makes them so different.

What does it mean to be called Hispanic?

The term Hispanic refers to a person from Spain and/or other Spanish-speaking countries, including Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, to name a few. In 1977, the United States government began using the term for population purposes (aka the census). Basically, they wanted a way to fit everyone under one umbrella to see the social and economic progress as a whole.

What does it mean to be called Latino/a?

The terms Latino and Latina refer to a person born or having ancestors from Latin America, including Central America, South America and the Caribbean. It rose in popularity in the early ‘90s because it excludes any ties with Spain or government interference.

But wait, what about Latinx?

Latinx (pronounced luh-TEE-neks) holds the same meaning as Latino/a. However, in the last decade, it’s become an inclusive term to use instead. It was coined in the early ‘00s as a gender-neutral and non-binary option for everyone—regardless of gender, sex and/or sexuality.

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