Over @AAIHS – Me (@jmjafrx) on Afrxlatinidad and Thinking About the ‘X’

“…Those of us who are queer Afrxlatinxs have been having this conversation and our work has been intersectional, futuristic, and insurgent. As Bianca Laureano noted over at The LatiNegrxs Project, even the Latino Rebels who argued for “intersectionality” in their discussion of the ‘X’ did a cartwheel over blackness and antiblackness—the very issues intersectionality, a theory and term coined by a black woman, was designed to address. Likewise, very few have dipped into this history of slavery and slave trading when debating whether or whether not to ‘X.’ What would happen if histories of black diasporic communities of Latin American descent and AfrxLatinxs in the United States (or abroad) were part of the discussion? Would they change the debate? The use of the X in communities of African descent has a history as political act and iconography, particularly in the second half of the 20th century. Incorporating this history into the debate has the potential to deepen the symbolic and historic power of the ‘X,’ so that even as it is used to break the gender binary it may also invoke an anti-racist intersectional paradigm that centers blackness and antiblackness within Latinidad. But not without doing the work.


“It is also critical to invoke radical media and social media as praxis in this discussion. It should be of no surprise digital communities of queer, gender non-conforming, and transgender Latinxs (many of them Afrxlatinxs) have been using the ‘X’ for some time. In 2008, Twitter changed its platform so the arroba (@ symbol) when used in conjunction with another user’s Twitter handle (@jmjafrx) linked to the user. A ’swoosh’ icon followed, allowing users to easily reply/mention other users in conversation. Facebook made a similar change in 2009.  As late as 2013, conversations online around how to use the arroba (@) symbol werestillflourishing, but it was clear technical considerations had changed the ease and aesthetic pleasure with which the arroba could be used.


“The use of the ‘X,’ in other words, has not occurred in a vacuum, isolated from the rise of digital communities of Afrxlatinxs, radical Afrxlatinxs, and LGBT Afrxlatinxs around the world who have sought out fresher and more evocative means of discourse, of reaching out and loving on each other. If there is something rich, creative, intersectional, coalitional, and radical about the ways language has changed with Latinx political imperatives over the last several years, it is steeped in changing media and the vibrant insistence of these social media communities search for safety and home…”

Read the entire essay: Thinking About the ‘X’ | AAIHS


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