What’s in a name: Hispanic or Latinx? | Desert Botanical Garden


Kevina Devereaux, Director of Social Responsibility & Inclusion

In September’s Your Garden at Home e-newsletter to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month. Why did the Garden use Latinx and not Hispanic?

To provide a brief background, the Garden’s current strategic plan calls out the need to reach three underserved audiences (families with children, millennials and the Latinx community). While developing the strategic plan, the Garden wanted to ensure we were using the proper terminology.  We tried to be inclusive as possible when describing such a large, diverse community. We conducted research and collaborated with local community organizations to settle on a term.

During our partnerships, we were educated on a variety of terminology:

Hispanic refers to a person from or a descendant of someone from a Spanish-speaking country. Using the word may unintentionally exclude because it includes Spain but leaves out countries such as Brazil, Brazil and does not consider the Indigenous populations that do not identify with Spanish culture or speak the language.

Latino/Latina refers to a person from, or a descendant of, a country in Latin America. The term excludes Spain but includes Brazil and Belize. There is still a disagreement about whether it excludes some countries in the Caribbean.

Latinx is a newer term created to encompass Latino/Latina and is gender-neutral but not an actual word in the Spanish language. It is not a widely accepted term but is embraced more by younger generations and some in the LGBTQ+ community.

The Garden’s community partners informed us that although the term is not widely accepted, they have adopted Latinx, and acceptance may grow over time. The Garden wanted to align with our community partners and settled on using the term Latinx.

Many socially acceptable terms have been used to describe communities, are no longer considered proper, and are now offensive throughout history. We determined although a term is not widely accepted now does not mean we are not heading in the right direction.

The Garden has made a shift to embody IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility). One’s personal preference determines which term is the best fit for them. The Garden is not making a stance on which terminology is proper or not. We want to ensure we are as inclusive as possible when creating programming, events and reaching out to audiences in our community.

Latinx is a term that many are divided on, including our staff. The Garden will continue to educate our organization, work with community partners and listen to the community to ensure we are heading in the right direction. We are listening and value any feedback that will continue to educate us during our learning journey.