The Struggle of Self-Identifying

There have been various terms that attempt to identify and categorize the Latinx population in the United States. Hispanic is an umbrella term A word used to refer to a large variety of unique peoples, usually used to simplify a more complex subject created by the U.S. government in the early 1970s in an attempt to group together to a large, multinational, multiracial population with connections to the language and culture of Spanish-speaking countries.

Since then, the term Latino, which describes people with roots in the countries of Latin and South America, has become more widely accepted. Still, within the diverse Latinx community, individuals tend to view themselves primarily in terms of national heritage.

Created Community

Latinx and other terms attempting to encompass the same population are ideas created by the the United States. Before arriving in the U.S., few immigrants would ever identify themselves as Latinx.


Pew Research Center: "Hispanic Origin and Nativity"

For members of the created community a community of people or peoples that are usually separate but are grouped together by someone else, usually a government, using words like Latinx to identify themselves is adopted over time and due to a certain degree of straddling more than one culture. Many people, however, continue to think of themselves in terms of their national identity of origin, such as Guatemalan, Honduran or Colombian.

Unified Voice

Because there are so many ways to identify under the “Latinx” umbrella, sometimes these different identities create divisions that make it hard for Latinxs to engage in civic action as a unified group. Latinxs are multiracial, multicultural, multinational and multilingual.

This reality has often worked against the unity of a Latinx voice, and governments, politicians and other organizations and corporations with varying agendas have taken notice. When a group is so large in numbers and lacks a strong unifying identity, it can lose political power.