Huckabee Sanders bans ‘Latinx’ on first day as Arkansas governor | The Hill

FILE – Arkansas Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers a question while taking part in a panel discussion during a Republican Governors Association conference on Nov. 16, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. After running a campaign focused heavily on national politics and her time as Donald Trump’s spokeswoman, Sanders says she wants to keep her attention on Arkansas as she prepares to be sworn in as the state’s 47th governor on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed an executive order this week banning the use of the term “Latinx” and its derivatives from all official Arkansas government communications.

The former Trump White House press secretary signed seven orders on her first day as governor on Tuesday, generally focused on red-meat issues like “Latinx,” the use of TikTok on government devices and a review on the teaching of critical race theory in schools.

Sanders’ order to ban “Latinx” is titled “Executive Order to Respect the Latino Community by Eliminating Culturally Insensitive words from Official Use in Government.””

The term “Latinx” is a gender-neutral form of “Latino” or “Latina” that gained some traction among progressive circles as an inclusive term.

Though it failed to catch on as a term to describe the entire U.S. Hispanic community, it’s still popular among groups who seek to promote further LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Since its inception, though, the term has been criticized for being unpronounceable in Spanish, and some have said it diminishes Spanish language inclusion.

Sanders’ executive order made reference to that criticism, by citing the Real Academia de la Lengua Española (RAE), the unofficial arbiter of Spanish-language usage rules worldwide.

“The Real Academia Española, the Madrid-based institution which governs the Spanish language, has officially rejected the use of ‘x’ as an alternative to ‘o’ and ‘a’ in Spanish,” reads the order.

But the Arkansas order went further, saying “one can no more easily remove gender from Spanish and other romance languages than one can remove vowels and verbs from English.”

Throughout the Spanish-speaking world, efforts have been made to de-genderize and sometimes to re-genderize neutral words.

For instance, the neutral word presidente, or president, is now more commonly used as presidenta when referring to female presidents.

And progressives in the Spanish speaking world, including in the United States, often use the term “Latine” as a replacement for “Latinx” that is both gender and language inclusive. 

The RAE has also rejected the use of an “e” to replace the genderized “o” or “a” endings, as the male “o” ending also indicates gender neutral or plural subjects in traditional Spanish usage.

Sanders’ office did not reply to a question on why her executive order did not include “Latine” in the list of banned terms.

Still, the executive order states that “it is the policy of the Governor’s administration to prohibit the use of culturally insensitive words for official state government business.”

The governor’s office did not respond to whether that included other terms disavowed by the Latino community, like “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant” or whether the term “Latinx” had ever been used in official Arkansas communications in the past.




Sarah Huckabee Sanders

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