CXLXNXXLXSMX: How American Oversensitivity and a Desire for Inclusivity Trigger a Quasi-Colonization of Language

Erwin Lopez Rada, News Editor

The United States is definitely a country of contrasts. While some people celebrate the beginning of the Hispanic Heritage month, which marks the Mexican declaration of independence from Spain by Miguel Hidalgo on Sept. 16, 1811, by packing downtown Chicago with mostly Mexican flags and the sound and flavors from below Rio Bravo others decide to take part in the cultural wars that are consuming mainstream America, and that is slowly creeping into the Latino households.

It is the case of Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (D) 35th ward, who tweeted on Sept. 15 that: “if we commit to Latinidad as an inclusionary, uniting, and liberatory political project, then we must work towards building a Latinidad that dismantles patriarchy and transphobia. The use of the gender-neutral language, like Latine or Latinx helps us reach that horizon.” 

When another user replied on the same thread that Latinos do not like or care about using the X at the end of words, he responded with a laughing emoji followed by text that read, “You’re so stupid”.

The tweet was an answer to Alderman Raymond Lopez’s own tweet that said: “Anyone using LatinX is insulting my heritage.” Which was a comment sensitive and in tone with what most of Latinos in the Americas think about the shoving down of academically invented inclusive language. This unfolds when just a couple decades ago Latinos avoided learning or speaking Spanish to not be profiled on the streets or at work.

Just to clarify, I support with all my strength the right of people to live their life as they please and be called as they prefer. But I expect the same respect towards my culture and my language.

Any attempt to transform the Spanish language from on high, without this being a natural process certified by our established institutions for the regulation of it, is no more than an expression of cultural colonialism that decants almost into discrimination. 

When I was in high school I met a member of the Venezuelan Academy of the Spanish Language, Dr. Alexis Márquez Rodriguez. In a speech he gave to senior students at my school he told us that effectively Spanish had changed.

He said that after more than 100 years of American influence – the U.S. was the owner of many oil fields in my country – Venezuelans call security guards “Guachimanes”, say they are going to “cachar” the bus, or ask politely their friends to “pichar” them a cold beer.

He added that these and many other words became part of the Venezuelan Spanish lexicon and were subsequently admitted by the Royal Academy of the Language into its famed dictionary.  

Who knows if Americans working in the oil fields in Maracaibo and Maturin actually wanted us to use and learn their words.

But Alderman Ramirez-Rosa and people in the elite do not seem to understand these cultural nuances, they do not want to wait for American cultural influences to settle and for education to change. A sizable part of Latinos still consider that LGBTQ+ issues, and adapting the language to them, are not bigger discussions.

They just want to make the change in our language happen through what they call “a revolution”.

Better call it a Conquista. Ramirez-Rosa added in the same Sept. 15, 2022 thread of tweets that Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztec living in the Mexico Valley in the pre-Cortesian era, was gender neutral and that we do not lose anything by trying to be inclusive.

But he does not mention that later in history a more technologically advanced Spanish Empire used coercion and all the weight of its culture – Catholicism, Castellan language, European rules of society – to ultimately crush the originary civilizations of the Valley of Mexico.

Now, many centuries after Latinos built a culture of their own, a mix of all the human civilizations that converged on our continent during the colonial times, other conquerors, with a different banner – that of “salvation” – want to again impose on us their truth and tell us what is right and wrong.

It feels a lot like a revival of the policy of “Manifest Destiny”, but this time the “civilization” they are bringing to us are not trains, industry, imperialism and manners.

Their doctrine of “Manifest Destiny” consists now of changing the way Latin Americans see the institution of family, how we talk our own language and what our kids should learn about sexual identification at school.

Sadly, Alderman Ramirez-Rosa is not alone in this trend to shame Latin Americans and try to arbitrarily impose changes in the way we talk and live.

The American mainstream media answers to this call by echoing this barbarization of our societies. Just look at this New York Times damning piece about the decision of the Buenos Aires provincial government to limit the use of Spanish inclusive language so kids can write formal Spanish: the one that is accepted in courts, schools and places of employment.

The Spanish that more than 97 percent of our people speak in their daily lives.

The Royal Academy of the Language determined in a 2020 report that the use of the consonant “X” instead of a vocal is contranatura (“unnatural”) in Spanish. We cannot pronounce it besides any vowel. Still, these elites – yes, if you are Latino and went to or currently attend college you are part of an elite – cannot see that their worldview is radically different to that of most of the people Ramirez-Rosa pretends to represent.

Ramirez-Rosa is so engrossed within this elite and their American Exceptionalism, that his attempt to look revolutionary by using “Latinidad” as just an American political movement – not the cultural identity that it involves – is, to put it softly, laughable.

With that I am not saying that the defense of the Latino heritage implies forgoing taking responsibility for changing society from within, as we see it is needed in some Latino democratic circles in L.A. and elsewhere.

I also believe that we should never forget the heritage left by visionaries and activists like Cesar Chavez that made Latinos the powerful political and cultural group that we are nowadays.

But Latinos in the U.S and south of the border worry about a shaky economy that is crushing our working class families, they worry about racial discrimination and police profiling, they care about political violence.

People from Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia worry about the proliferation of communist ideas that are proven to be harmful for everyone over the course of the last hundred years, they struggle with inflation that is eating their meager salaries, and they worry about the oppression of not being able to just be a Latino and express their culture and be free to speak it out without being called transphobic.

The fight for an inclusive Spanish is not yet an important issue for Latinos. We had already developed within our language ways to be more inclusive, but these ways of talking had not been adopted anywhere Cervantes’ is talked.

Latinos could be culturally competent and understand the nuances of American life, and of course, support the use by Ramirez-Rosa, and anyone, of the term “Latinx” [sic] in English just because it might culturally make sense, although people that consider themselves Latino rarely use it and often hate it.

But you cannot be inclusive by calling people transphobic or stupid just because they are defending their heritage. That is plain colonialism, or in Spanish “inclusive” cxlxnxxlxsmx. In any case behaviors like that of Martinez-Rosa and his allies are prompting in our communities nothing less than a: YANKEE GO HOME! Followed by a deserved: Respeta para que te respeten.