A quiet story in the entertainment site Deadline that television star Eva Longoria and Black-ish creator Kenya Barris would be developing a new sitcom revolving around a “modern Latinx family” seemed to set off Texas Sen. Ted Cruz Wednesday. “No actual Latino uses the woke made-up term Latinx,” he tweeted, reiterating a now familiar conservative talking point. Since it came into widespread use over the last five years or so, Latinx has been attacked by both rightist and leftist critics for different reasons. Using the catchall slur “woke” allows conservatives to claim that it is an indoctrination tool for liberal ideology, while some progressives feel it obscures the uncomfortable legacy of Latin American colonialism and racism. But the reality of Latinx is not quite as simple as this political debate.
It’s often been said that naming is power, whether it comes from an authority or government, or whether it arises from marginalized people that seek to be heard in everyday conversation. When I first heard the term “Latinx” in 2014 to describe Latin American descended people living in the US from students in a seminar I teach at Columbia University, I was compelled to listen.
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