Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders Bans the Use of 'Latinx' in Government Documents During First Day in Office

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

“Her anti-woke rhetoric will do nothing to address the economic issues that are front and center in the minds of Latino/as in the US, including in Arkansas,” author Ed Morales said in response to the ban.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders banned the use of the word “Latinx” in all government documents in the state.

Shortly after being sworn in on Jan. 10, Gov. Sanders signed an executive order prohibiting the use of what the office described as “culturally insensitive words”.

The Arkansas governor gave state officials 60 days to review documents and replace “‘Latinx,’ ‘latinx,’ ‘Latinxs,’ or ‘latinxs’ with ‘Hispanic,’ ‘Hispanics,’ ‘Latino,’ ‘Latinos,’ ‘Latina,’ or ‘Latinas.’”

In the executive order, Gov. Sanders stated the reason behind the ban as the government's  “responsibility to respect its citizens and use ethnically appropriate language, particularly when referring to ethnic minorities.”

A 2020 Pew Research Report was cited in order to support the decision. The report showed that 3% of U.S Hispanic and Latino adults use the term Latinx.

The report also showed that of the adults surveyed, only 23% had heard of the term Latinx, 20% of those surveyed do not use the term Latinx, and the remaining 3% makes up the group that uses the term.

Seventy-six percent of the rest of the adults surveyed hadn’t heard of the term Latinx prior to the survey.

The use of the term Latinx has been highly debated in the Hispanic and Latino community. The term itself has been widely used as a gender-neutral term to be more inclusive, according to the Pew Report. 

Many Latinos feel the effort distracts from larger issues plaguing Latinos living in Arkansas.

Ed Morales, author of Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture, shared his opinion on the new order to CNN, saying, “Sanders is making sure the debate around 'Latinx' drowns out more important issues in the community,” 

“Her anti-woke rhetoric will do nothing to address the economic issues that are front and center in the minds of Latino/as in the US, including in Arkansas, one of our nation’s poorest states,” said Morales.

The director of the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas, Margarita Solorzano, told NBC News, “In regards to the [word] Latinx, 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 saw the order as “political noise” and more of a distraction as it is not the main concern for the people they serve in their organization, NBC News reported.

Others took the ban as a warning for what may come from the administration.

“It's an attack not only on the Latino community, but on the trans and nonbinary community as well,” Irvin Camacho, a community rights organizer, told NBC News. “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?”

Along with the executive order banning the use of “Latinx” she also signed an order banning Critical Race Theory in Arkansas schools.

The order stated “Critical Race Theory (CRT) is antithetical to the traditional American values of neutrality, equality, and fairness,” and tasked the secretary of the Department of Education to “review and enhance the policies that prevent prohibited indoctrination, including CRT.”

“In Arkansas, we will not tolerate indoctrination or CRT, we reject “Latinx”, and we will not aid in China’s data harvesting or exploitation,” said Gov. Sanders in a tweet. “On day one, we set the tone for an administration that will empower Arkansans and defend our freedom at every turn.”

Related Stories