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Learn the Difference: Hispanic v. Spanish v. Latinx

Written by Sergio Pena

Hispanic, Spanish, and Latinx are used to note the characteristics of particular groups of people yet they are used callously and interchangeably by many. An example of such interchangeable use of Hispanic, Spanish and Latinx can be seen in the popular Netflix original series, “Orange is the New Black”, in which the non-Hispanic/Spanish/Latinx characters typically address the Latinx and Hispanic characters as Spanish despite them not actually being Spanish. It is important to note that the terms Hispanic and Latinx are umbrella terms, it’s more common to see Hispanics and Latinxs identify themselves by their actual ethnicity, for example Mexican, Columbian, Bolivian, etc.

The characters in “Orange is the New Black” typically refer to the Hispanic and Latinx characters as Spanish and it is completely incorrect. Spanish people are people that come from Spain, the country in Western Europe. So if a person is Latinx refrain from calling them Spanish. Remember: When in doubt, ask politely!

Latin America all of the countries in South America, except Suriname and Guyana, Central America, except Belize, several Caribbean countries, and Mexico. Latinx is a gender neutral way of referring to a person of Latin American descent. Latinx is typically used to refer to the general Latin American community.

The Spanish and the Portuguese explorers were ruthless with the colonization of the indigenous people of the lands that they explored and would teach them Spanish or Portuguese. Hispanics are people who descend from Spanish-speaking countries. Most of Latinxs are Hispanics except for Brazilians and Haitians since their official languages aren’t Spanish.

As we continue to raise awareness for the issues of certain groups and communities, we must understand their identities to full comprehend who they are. The hashtag, “#OPENYOUREYES”, is being used to bring attention to police brutality against Latinxs and to speak on Latinx issues and we must continue to do so since Latinxs face severe social inequality.

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