The conversation around how Latinos label themselves, and expect to be referred to by others, is growing day by day as gaps are identified and issues of homogenization are considered. The question of the use of “Latinx,” in particular, is one that continuously sparks controversy. To help, this Mexican-American artist created the comic “You Say Latinx.”
“I find language, labels and terms interesting,” illustrator and writer Terry Blas tells Remezcla. “Latinx is a term that I find fascinating and confusing, and I encountered people who didn’t know what it meant.”
His illustration, published this week on Vox, came about on a plane ride to Oregon following a trip to Mexico City, where he came head-to-head with issues surrounding the term and ultimately decided to use its alternative form – Latine.
As Eugenio Derbez attempted to make evident in an incredibly awkward and uncomfortably long, ill-received bit at the Latin AMAs, replacing all gendered words in the Spanish language with their more inclusive alternatives — whether that be an “x” or an “e” — can be a challenge.
Though many agree that inclusivity in language is a good thing, the level of facility in pronunciation of one over the other is more the topic of discussion when it comes to Latinx vs. Latine. Most media outlets, Remezcla included, have opted for Latinx up until now. The problem, many find, is that it’s difficult to pronounce Spanish words that have replaced gendered vowels with an “x.” For many, it’s easier to use the gender neutral “e” instead.
Though the Portland-based illustrator makes it clear in the piece that how we choose to define ourselves is an unequivocally personal decision, this is a conversation he hopes will continue not only in the Latinx community but beyond. For him, making and having art like this published is a means of expanding representation.
“I’m constantly telling people that Latinos will soon make up a quarter of the population of the United States,” he says. “We aren’t a niche market. There’s plenty of us out there, and there’s power in numbers.”
Still, some people are demanding more of Blas in the most comical of ways.
“I welcome constructive criticism,” he says. “But what I find strange is people who are upset that I didn’t include something like an alternative for the X in French. I don’t speak French. I’m not from France.”
As with his previously published comic “You Say I’m Latino,” Blas says the response to his latest piece has been mixed thus far, but that’s to be expected.
“The way I deal with it is to think of someone super famous that I admire and ask myself: Are they reading the comments or are they busy making stuff, creating stuff, working,” he says.
¿Y tu, que piensas? Latine or Latinx?