There is still a lot of confusion between the terms, Latino/a, Latinx, Hispanic, Chicano, Spanish, Spaniard…and who falls in each category. For instance, are Portuguese and Spaniards Latin? What are the differences between Hispanics and Latinos? Are Spaniards Latino?
According to Oxford, by definition, a Latino/a is a native or inhabitant of a country whose language developed from Latin, especially a Latin American. Ok, therefore, Italians, Spanish, French, and Portuguese are Latin, right?. They are not Latin Americans, but they are Latin.
The Hispanic definition is: relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, especially those of Latin America. Ok, so you can be Latino/a but you are only Hispanic if you speak Spanish.
The part that makes everything a bit confusing is the “especially Latin American” part. Does it mean Latin Americans are more Hispanic and Latin than the Latinos/as who are not?
And then the term Latinx: a person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina) which leaves out anyone who doesn’t come from Latin America, however it claims it is the gender-neutral version of Latino/a which includes all the other Latinos (the ones that don’t come from Latin America)…
And then we have Filipinos, Martinicans, and Haitians? Are they Latin? They were colonized by Spaniards and French so they should be…shouldn’t they? It depends who you ask.
Then we have more subdivisions, Chicano/a or Chicanx who is an American of Mexican origin or descent and that excludes everyone else. But can you be “Chicano” and not “Hispanic” if you don’t speak Spanish?
It’s all very messy when attempting to create subcategories within categories. So I was curious if the English speaking countries have the same mess. And it turns out, they do – and it might be even worse. Anglo, White and Caucasian are their labels of choice. Let’s look into them:
The term “White” is such a bland adjective/noun to use for a person, and it doesn’t refer to specific demographics because you can be white from virtually any country in the world. So let’s move on to the other two terms…
Anglo–Saxon, is the term used historically to describe any member of the Germanic peoples who, from the 5th century to the time of the Norman Conquest (1066), inhabited and ruled territories that are today part of England and Wales. But the idea that Anglo-Saxon invaders defined or even significantly influenced British genetics has been “widely discredited,” according to National Geographic, which quotes an archaeologist named David Miles. “Probably what we’re dealing with is a majority of British people who were dominated politically by a new elite,” Miles told the magazine. “They were swamped culturally but not genetically.”
Ok so, how about Caucasians? Is it more accurate? Not really…
Caucasians are the people who live in the Caucasus like Georgians, Armenian, and Chechens. However, the term caucasian has incorrectly been used as a synonym of “white.” Most “white” people in the U.S. aren’t descended from the Caucasus region between Europe and Asia, but from western and northern Europe instead.
The bottom line here is that people’s ancestry can be a diverse and rich mix of different factors; some of them are cultural, some others are genetic, some are geographical, and a single label can’t define the complexity of that combo. So can we just call each other “humans?”