As a senior woman of Mexican heritage, born in Lorain, Ohio, with a 40-year career in higher education and leadership and DEI consulting, I continue to unpack my personal and professional identity and what it means to me and communicates to others. There is an adage that states that one is a little like others, somewhat like others, and also a unique being. Although categorizations based on presumed shared identities may seem like a shortcut to “know” someone, these can also lead to mistaken assumptions. These leads me to write about in this month’s blog about the need to avoid putting individuals of Latinx heritage in one box.
In mid-September, Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month officially kicks off, inviting special speakers, events, and award ceremonies for Latinx individuals who are making a difference in society and the workplace. There is much to write about specific to the increasingly diverse Latinx population in the US. Intersecting identities are the norm, not one singular identity concept of Latinx heritage can be applied. Latinx-heritage individuals may also be LGBTQ+, an individual with an invisible disability, Puerto Rican from Orlando versus New Jersey, an Ivy League graduate, Jewish, and single woman professional without children. The diversity among the label “Latinx” is expansive. Consider the following from recent Census reports and the implications for your higher education institution and workforce:
- Latinxs are among the youngest racial or ethnic group in the U.S., with a median age of 30.
- Latinx identified individuals may have roots in one of 22 Spanish-speaking countries.
- Marriages between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites make up more than 40% of recent interracial marriages.
- 23 percentage of Latinx children are under 18 and in 18 states & the District of Columbia, Latino children accounted for at least 20% of public-school kindergarten students.
- On the Census, the majority of Latinx, self-report they are white Hispanics.
- Skin color variability privileges certain Latinx over others; Colorism is a part of one’s Latinx identity.
- Latinx adults in the US tend to be married more often than not; in 2017, 46% of Latinx in the US were married, 16% divorced, 38% never married
- 59% have graduated from high school.
- 16% have graduated with a bachelor’s degree and have majored primarily in business, communications, and education.
- Depending on the part of the country, there will likely be different Latinx heritage individuals born there and of multiple generation families. California and states in the Southwest are examples.
Increasing representation of Latinx -heritage individuals in your employee and leadership ranks requires knowledge about the whole person, not just an ascribed category based on presumed ethic heritage. The percentage of Latinx immigrants continues to decrease, meaning that more individuals are born in the U.S. and may be monolingual English speakers. Employers and university administrators are encouraged to know about the history of Latinx communities in their cities and state and apply that knowledge as they plan for the future of their organizations. The map below can be a tool to consider.
Arredondo, P. (Ed.). (2018). Latinx immigrants: Transcending acculturation and xenophobia.
Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.