Hispanic and Latinx People
Hispanic and Latinx are terms that refer to shared cultures, identities, and ethnicities, and include diverse groups of people from across the globe. “Hispanic” is a language-based ethnic identity, which describes people born in or with ancestors from the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain. The term “Latino/a/x” is a geography-based ethnic identity, which describes people born in or with ancestors from Latin America. Latin America includes countries in South America, Middle America, and the Caribbean that speak Latin/Romance languages, such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Latinx (pronounced la-teen-ex) and Latine are terms coined by gender expansive Latin American people intended to provide gender-neutral alternatives to Latina and Latino. Latinx is most widely used, but some Spanish-speaking people prefer Latine, as it is less anglicized. Because the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino/a/x” can overlap in their definitions, individuals may consider themselves Hispanic, Latinx, both, or neither. These terms refer to one’s ethnicity, meaning Hispanic and Latinx people can belong to any race. Some Hispanic and Latinx people prefer being identified by nationality (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Guatemalan, Cuban, Colombian, etc.) rather than ethnicity. Because racial and ethnic identities are deeply personal and are constantly evolving, terminology is a matter of individual preference and should be treated as such.
Hispanic and Latinx people have been instrumental as activists for workers’ rights, gay and transgender liberation, and gun law reform. They have also broken barriers in the United States as scientists, artists, and inventors. Despite these contributions to society, Hispanic and Latinx people have been routinely mistreated, marginalized, and excluded in the United States. From being the targets of hate crimes and racist deportation campaigns to being scapegoated for bringing drugs, disease, and economic downturn to America, Hispanic and Latinx lives are too often devalued and criminalized. Hispanic and Latinx people in the United States also experience disparities in health and access to care. Hispanic people are about 50% more likely to die from diabetes or liver disease than their white counterparts. Additionally, Hispanic and Latinx people are 3 times more likely to be uninsured than white people. Hispanic and Latinx people who are immigrants, refugees, undocumented, limited-English proficient, economically poor, disabled, and/or LGBTQ+ are even more likely to struggle to thrive due to the compounding marginalizations they experience.
Hispanic and Latinx people are the fastest growing communities of color in the United States. Despite this growth, anti-Latinx rhetoric is still commonplace, and can be seen in characterizations of Mexican immigrants as rapists, criminals, and drug dealers or Latinx people being labeled as parasites, gang-members, and animals, regardless of immigration status. It is important to note that not all Hispanic and Latinx people in the United States are immigrants. This perception contributes to systemic oppression, as anti-immigration movements in the U.S. have often become thinly-veiled anti-Latinx movements.
Achieving health equity and racial justice for Hispanic and Latinx people requires deeply uprooting racist systems that perpetuate their exploitation and abuse. Institutionalizing and operationalizing equity and justice throughout all leadership levels of all sectors will require organizations, allies, and systems to deeply center and follow the leadership of people with lived experience. Community-led processes, self-representation, and centering Hispanic and Latinx voices are a few effective tactics communities can leverage to advance equity and well-being for Hispanic and Latinx people.