“What does it mean to be Latinx in comics?
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a while now. Growing up snatching up whatever scraps of Latinx representation I could even if it meant settling for stereotypes, whitewashing, secondary character status (if lucky), and their stories ending in death. This is a plight many fans of color and other marginalized peoples can relate to. In comics, Latinx characters are often Latinx in name only, Spanish characters being positioned or promoted as Latinx characters, whitewashed, or having their Latinx identities erased.
All these problems with Latinx representation in comics comes down the the ignorance surrounding the Latinx identity. Comics as a medium don’t appear to have a clue what being Latinx is or how to represent Latinx people. To understand how to depict Latinxs in comics, we have to begin understanding the difference in what Hispanic and Latinx mean — what an ethnicity is — and how being Latinx and/or Hispanic is a racialized one.
To begin, it is a common misconception that Latinx and Hispanic peoples are one and the same. People who are Hispanic are people who descend where a country’s language is primarily Spanish-speaking and have ancestry that can be traced back to the Iberian Peninsula or Hispania. This includes Spaniards, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans, but it wouldn’t include Brazilians as the primary language spoken is Portuguese. Latinx identifies people from Latin countries, and have ancestry from Latin America (both south and central). So Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Colombians, and Brazilians. These differences are all due to a history of colonization at the hands of European countries such as Spain and Portugal.
You can be Hispanic but not Latinx, just as you can be Latinx but not Hispanic, and you can even identify as both. But no matter which a person may identify with, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re a person of color…”