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Hofstra explores identity in Latin-American culture

Hofstra explores identity in Latin-American culture

Photo courtesy of Genesis Ibarra / Hofstra Chronicle

In an effort to educate the Hofstra community on the identity concept around the gender-inclusive term, Latinx, the Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition (QTPOCC) and the Intercultural Engagement & Inclusion (IEI) office hosted an open discussion called, “What the Heck is Latinx?” on Wednesday, Sept. 26. 

“Latinx is a step forward,” said Natalia Chamorro, an adjunct instructor of romance languages and literatures. 

“Latino is an identity signifier of history and Latinx pushes this history even farther, as it makes room for other people, other orientations, other identities and also it makes us think. It makes us talk about gender,” Chamorro said.

Latinx can be defined as “a gender inclusive term for a person of Latin American origin living in the U.S.” Latinx is used in lieu of Latino or Latina. This term aims to break gender binaries and include people who are transgender, LGBTQ+, agender, non-binary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid. 

Chamorro along with Pepa Anastasio, a professor of romance languages and literatures and Maria Rabago, a senior journalism and women’s studies major, made up the panel for Wednesday’s discussion.

The event was one of many programs hosted under IEI’s “Diversity, Dialogue and Desserts”.

“I think people forget that language is constantly evolving ... every single word that exists has been made up,” Rabago said. 

Rabago also serves as president of the Campus Feminist Collective (CFC). “Let’s make up one more word that helps us [the Latinx community] ... I don’t think you can call yourself a feminist and not fight for LGBTQ+ rights.”

The fight for LGBTQ+ and the Latinx community is something both students and faculty are advocating for. Anastasio does her part by using gender-inclusive terminology in her classes. 

“When I write to students I make the ‘x’ obvious so I don’t have to use the gender vowel in that case,” Anastasio said. “Grammar tells me to say ‘¿Como están todos?’ which makes it very strange. 

When you speak in Spanish the term Latinx is not that common, but it is common to break the binary.”

The “What the Heck is Latinx?” event served as a safe space for students to voice their opinions on the lack of inclusivity in language and on campus. 

Senior psychology major and vice president of QTPOCC Michelle Boo led the discussion on establishing a necessary dialogue at Hofstra. 

“I find that a lot of people choose or are forced to choose one side or the other, which is why intersectionality is such an important concept, especially when it comes to individuals of color that don’t identify within the binary because they don’t have a voice otherwise,” Boo said. 

“That means forsaking one part of their identity which is non-negotiable.”

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