Hispanic and Latinx are terms used to describe individuals with Spanish-speaking origins or heritage. While they are often used interchangeably, they have slightly different meanings. Hispanic refers specifically to individuals from Spanish-speaking countries, regardless of their racial background. Latinx, on the other hand, is a gender-neutral term that encompasses individuals from Latin American countries and their descendants. It is inclusive of various gender identities and aims to be more inclusive and progressive. In summary, Hispanic refers to Spanish-speaking individuals, while Latinx is a broader term that includes individuals from Latin American countries and promotes gender inclusivity.
Jennifer Lopez. Ellen Ochoa. Sonia Sotomayor. Marco Rubio. Alex Rodriguez. Jimmy Smits. Carlos Santana. What do all these people have in common? If you know any of these names, then you might guess that they’re all famous.
That’s true. But they also share something else. Can you guess what it is? They’re all Hispanic! Or are they all Latinx?
You may have heard both terms used for each of these famous Americans. But do they have the same meaning?
Many people believe that “Hispanic” and “Latinx” are interchangeable. However, these words carry different definitions. While there is some overlap between the terms, only one of them may be correct.
Some individuals use Hispanic and Latinx to refer to race or color. However, these terms actually describe ethnicity.
Hispanic is a term that is related to language. It encompasses the culture and people of regions that were once under the rule of the Spanish Empire. The common thread among Hispanic individuals is their shared language: Spanish. This includes countries like Mexico, Central America, and most of South America.
On the other hand, Latinx pertains to geography. It refers to individuals of Latin American descent. This includes countries in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and North America, where the people speak Romance languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.
Given these definitions, it is evident that there is considerable overlap between the terms Hispanic and Latinx. To add to the confusion, the term “Hispanic” is derived from the Latin word for “Spain,” while Latinx comes from the Spanish word for “Latin.”
An example of where the two terms differ can be found in individuals of Brazilian descent. Brazilians speak Portuguese instead of Spanish. Many Brazilians consider themselves Latinx but not Hispanic.
Today, there are over 56 million Hispanic and Latinx individuals in the United States, comprising over 17% of the U.S. population. By 2060, it is projected that these numbers will grow to represent 28% of the population, totaling 119 million people. As the largest ethnic minority in America, the contributions of Hispanic and Latinx individuals are significant and far-reaching, both in the Americas and globally.
Give It a Try
Are you interested in learning more about Latinx culture? Ask a friend or family member to help you explore the following activities:
- Have you ever noticed that the influence of Hispanic culture on America goes back long before the formation of the United States? If you want to learn more about this impact, go online and read “What Would America Be like without Hispanics?” Take note of at least three interesting facts you discover.
- One of the contributions that Hispanic and Latinx culture has made to American society, which everyone can enjoy, is its delicious food! Visit the website “8 Kid Friendly Hispanic Heritage Month Recipes” to find a new recipe that you can try with your family at home.
- Have you observed the influence of Hispanic culture in your local area? Read the article “How Hispanic Culture Is Changing America” to gain a deeper understanding of how Hispanic culture is shaping and influencing mainstream American culture, particularly in sports and the arts. Take note of things you see in your daily life that are influenced by Hispanic culture and discuss them with an adult or a friend.
- http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/08/27/434584260/hispanic-or-latino-a-guide-for-the-u-s-presidential-campaign (accessed 2 Oct 2019)
- http://www.diffen.com/difference/Hispanic_vs_Latino (accessed 2 Oct 2019)
- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/04/latinos-contributions-to-us-history-independence_n_3545899.html (accessed 2 Oct 2019)
- https://www.infoplease.com/hispanic-americans-numbers (accessed 2 Oct 2019)
- http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/20/us/hispanics-in-the-u-s-/ (accessed 2 Oct 2019)