I am fascinated and dismayed by how much ableist and militaristic language is casually used by abled journalists and doctors; how casually we will use militaristic language for convalescence, when what is needed is gentle care. — Steven W. Thrasher, on our ableist culture
The Term Latinx
Scholars explain that the term Latinx was developed by Chicano and Latina feminists who “felt uncomfortable with the masculine term [Latino].” Today, proponents of Latinx say that it serves as a response to a history of discrimination against women, LGBTQ people, and Afro-Latinx people. It’s also an intervention tool; research shows using gender-inclusive language makes LGBTQ people feel safe, heard, and valued.
But a recent survey found that “only 23% of Hispanic adults have heard of the term Latinx.” The term is mostly used by a younger, more gender-conscious demographic. Older Hispanics and those outside of the United States tend to express discomfort or disagree with it.
As we teach in our courses, identity terminology is always changing. The takeaway is to be open and responsive to new and shifting terms, and consider how an individual self-identifies. Although proponents consider Latinx to be a more gender-inclusive term, as we see in this report, most people choose not to use it. When in doubt, ask how someone would like you to refer to them.
How It Affects You
Terms like Hispanic and Latinx are often used for convenience as well as coalition building. Scholars say they can even help to signal “solidarity with historically oppressed groups.” But it’s important to appreciate just how diverse communities included in these terms are. As the report points out, most people identify by their country of origin. There’s no one perfect term that will make everyone feel heard and valued. But companies and campuses can continue to look for opportunities to be as inclusive as possible, and continue to listen.
Women’s Careers during COVID-19
It’s reported that due to COVID-19 pressures, hundreds of thousands of women dropped out of the US labor force just this past month. That’s almost eight times the number of men who dropped out in the same period. Unemployment for women as a whole is at 8% right now. And it’s higher for Black and Hispanic women.
Several factors are contributing to the trend. Industries that employ a lot of women are doing worse during the pandemic. Closed schools and a lack of childcare options are forcing women to choose between their careers and caregiving. And despite a cultural re-thinking of traditional gender roles in recent decades, moms are still three times as likely as dads to take on the majority of housework and caregiving.
Women leaving the workforce in droves is yet another example of how the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in our society. Even before the pandemic, the gender pay gap meant that women were more likely than men to give up their (lower-paying) jobs and stay at home. The situation is even more challenging for single mothers.
How It Affects You
Here are a few ways to remain gender-inclusive as we navigate the COVID-19 job economy:
- Pay attention to gendered patterns of retention, pay, and caregiver benefits among your employees. Work to counter these patterns, knowing that they disproportionately impact women and other members of marginalized groups.
- Be flexible about punctuality and altered schedules during this time, especially when it comes to caregivers. Consider whether your timeline for completing tasks and schedule expectations favor the majority-group.
- Many women are concerned they’ll face challenges getting back into the workforce after taking time off for caregiving. This often happens because of the common misconception that women can and should commit to either home or career. Be alert to this kind of bias when making hiring decisions.
Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered how Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated in the United States. Dr. Elizabeth Ellis, an Indigenous scholar, argues that it is even more important to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day at this moment. The holiday has functioned to bring awareness to Indigenous issues since the 1980s. Ellis argues that, given the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous communities, now is the time for all Americans to “show up” for Indigenous people.
Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day and learning about Indigenous issues is a way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike to speak out against racism and colonialism.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought attention to how systemic racism and oppression continue to impact Indigenous communities disproportionately. Showing up for Indigenous people means supporting efforts to combat the racism, police violence, and mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis that Indigenous communities face.
How It Affects You
Here are some ways you can show your support for Indigenous people in the United States.
- Spread awareness of Indigenous issues, whether through social media, at work, or in the classroom.
- Donate money or assistance to Indigenous organizations.
- Speak out against the colonialism and xenophobia that continue to displace Indigenous people.