Being Latinx is about self-identifying and embracing different backgrounds, panelist Theresa Vargas Wyatt said during an on-campus summit Thursday.
“What is empowering about the ‘x’ is the idea of intersectionality and that we are all different … but it brings us together,” said Wyatt, chief growth officer at La Reyna, a Latinx-focused entertainment and advertising agency.
Wyatt spoke at the LatinX Factor summit, hosted by the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the Hispanic Faculty/Staff Association and Latino Studies. During the summit, dozens of people listened to speakers discuss the role of the Latinx community in American culture and politics as part of the LBJ School’s Civic Engagement Series.
In her keynote speech, Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, a Latinx studies expert and associate professor at Harvard University, outlined the history and usage of the term Latinx. The word is a gender-neutral alternative to Latino and Latina used more by millenials and Generation Z than by previous generations, Guidotti-Hernández said.
“The things that are really important to the Latinx discourse and those that use Latinx as a term is that the ‘x’ signifies a dissatisfaction or gender nonconformity with the gender spectrum,” Guidotti-Hernández said.
As a Latinx woman in the business world, Wyatt said it is important for those in the Latinx community to empower each other.
“Latinx is about celebrating unfiltered, unapologetic and brave voices as they uplift their communities and inspire the next generation of ceiling-breakers,” Wyatt said. “Remember, our stories are American stories.”
Carlos Arce is the chief methodologist at EthniFacts, an organization that analyzes ethnic identity and behavior. He presented data showing a slow growth in the percentage of Latinx men attaining higher education.
“One of the most important indicators of social advancement and permanence in the U.S. is the attainment of education,” Arce said. “We also see evidence that Hispanic women (and) Latinas caught up and are surpassing their male counterparts.”
Sisto Campana, a global policy graduate student, said he attended the event to learn more about current events within the Latinx community. He said he was surprised to learn how researchers such as Arce apply labels to different family dynamics within the community.
“I meet people who are bilingual (and) whose parents are from a certain place, but you don’t really know there are labels,” Campana said. “I didn’t know that stuff is quantified, so that’s pretty cool.”