It says a lot when even iconic wordsmith Lin-Manuel Miranda is at a loss for words when labeling the collective known as Latinos. The Tony-winning producer and actor spoke with IndieWire about the defining of an entire culture, and he was open about his apprehension.
“What you run up against are the limits of defining 32 different f**king countries with one word,” Miranda said in the interview. “Literally, no word is going to make everyone happy.” This issue retains its relevance and importance even though Miranda is not the first to speak publicly about this. Personally, Miranda, describes himself as Latino. “When I was in high school, every week, the Latino club would debate ‘Latino’ versus ‘Hispanic,’” he said. “Now ‘Hispanic’ has really fallen into the rearview, and it’s all these variations on the rear-end of the word.”
As we know, terms like Latinx and Latine have entered the conversation in recent years, too. “Latine is great because it’s Latino-created,” the creator of Hamilton and In The Heights said. “I’m cool with all of it. I use them interchangeably because I think the pie is still cooling and it will never be perfect, because it’s trying to capture too much stuff.”
For those whom the terms represent, there is no clear answer. In August 2020, Pew Research Institute reported that only a few Latino adults know the term “Latinx” and fewer actually use it. The same study reported 76% had never even heard the descriptor “Latinx.”
Miranda’s point of using a single word that encompasses almost three dozen countries is a vital one. It however, is taking a back seat to his primary focus this week. In The Heights opens on June 11.