Monday, July 15, 2024

The Term ‘Latinx’ Now Banned from Official Government Use in Arkansas

The new governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has signed an executive order banning the term “Latinx” from official use in government business. At the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas meeting, director Margarita Solorzano had to redirect chatter away from the news.

The executive order signed by Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders surprised Solorzano and other Latinos. Solorzano viewed the ban as “political noise.” She asked others at the meeting to “not get distracted because there are other things happening in the state,” Solorzano told NBC News.

“In regards to the [word] Latinx,” Solorzano began, “I know that [it] is important for some people, but it’s not necessarily the general sentiment of the immigrant or Latino population. They have other more pressing issues to pay attention — people are concerned about surviving every day and making sure they provide for their families.”

Solorzano is more focused on the governor’s plans for issues she thinks need more attention, such as education, access to health care, and the justice system.

Irvin Camacho, a community rights organizer, sits on the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas board and says he mainly uses the term “Latinx” as an all-inclusive term in organizing educational spaces.

He said the ban was not just a surprise but a potential warning of what’s to come under the new administration.

“It’s an attack not only on the Latino community but on the trans and nonbinary community as well,” he said. “But what I am worried about is if this administration on the first day decided to sign this executive order — what does it look like for us going forward?”

Rumba Yambú, who identifies as a trans-Latinx person, has worked toward building a more inclusive space with inTRANSitive, a nonprofit they helped co-found in 2017 that offers educational and financial resources to trans residents in the state. He finds the executive order felt personal to him.

Yambú says the ban brought up a lot of anti-LGBTQ sentiments like the “erasure of identity” that rose during the Trump administration, especially with the banning of trans terms from the government.

In her executive order, Sanders cited a 2020 Pew Research report that found that only 3% of the Hispanic population nationwide uses Latinx. “Ethnically insensitive and pejorative language has no place in official government documents or government employee titles,” the executive order stated.

Solorzano said that “we are just talking about a word that — for Latinos — can be meaningful. For us, the word Latino, Hispanic, and Latinx — we can use those interchangeably. In the end, we as people define ourselves.”

NBC News