Editorial: What does diversity look like? It’s a personal thing

A recent study on ticketing patterns in Cleveland Heights conducted by the Cleveland State University (CSU) Division of Diversity, Inclusion, and University Engagement raised an issue of racial demographic terminology that has been much discussed and debated over the last decade: the neologism “Latinx”.

As a Mexican-American woman with ancestors in two Native American tribes, I find the term Latinx to be provocative. I would not choose to use it to describe myself, as it is my feeling that the breadth of cultural, linguistic, and geographical inclusion that it represents diffuses racial identity into an easily digestible category that includes all but defines little. 

Initially, Latinx was used to represent non-gender Hispanics and Latins. Over time, this term has come to be accepted in the academic sector, which explains its use by CSU. But, according to Pew Research Center, just 3% of Hispanics and Latino/as polled use Latinx as a means of self-identification. 

Latinx encourages the ongoing effort to sustain, celebrate, and link our cultural and personal identity, and that is to be commended. But is it possible that such a broad latitude of inclusion might suggest a diminishment of the cultural specificity that leads to the strong sense of self-identification desired among members of our community? 

At the end of the day, the people represented by a term as broad as Latinx do not so neatly align under one singular identifying category, and using it could be considered dangerously facile. For an institute of higher education like CSU to use this term suggests adoption of a neologism that encourages cultural diffusion and therefore damages cultural wealth in our community.

Many of us include our country of ancestral origin, our native language, and other cultural components when we describe ourselves in comparison to other Americans. This enables us to self-identify as members of a cultural group and also provides us with a means of keeping the uniqueness of our cultures alive. In sustaining the vibrancy of our origins and languages, we find meaning while contributing to a culturally wealthy America. 

Danielle Dronet is a Mexican-American, Latina and Hispanic—not Latinx—Cleveland Heights resident. She operates a private practice on the East Side, and she is both the founder of CAMHP Foundation and a 2022 candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives District 9 seat.
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