Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Shakira is proud to be ‘Latino Americana’ ‘Whenever, Wherever’

Students share their thoughts on Piqué's alleged xenophobic comment towards Shakira and discuss Latinx-identifying terms.

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The divorce between Colombian singer Shakira and Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué has been in the public eye for over a year — a split involving scandals such as alleged cheating, complicit mothers-in-law, diss tracks and a jar of jelly.

Recently, Piqué discussed his separation from Shakira on sports journalist Gerard Romero’s podcast, sharing that he has received hate on social media from Shakira’s fanbase following their divorce.

“My ex is Latino Americana, and you have no idea what I’ve received over social media from people who I guess don’t have lives,” Piqué said during the podcast interview.

The former Spanish soccer player received backlash for the way he used the term “Latino Americana.” Many people on social media perceived it as “xenophobic” and “racist.”

Latinx students at USC are divided on whether or not Piqué's “Latino Americana” comment was problematic as well as the use of other identifying terms within the community.

Martin Aguirre is a Colombian international student at USC, whose family is from Shakira’s hometown of Barranquilla. Aguirre explains that as a Spaniard, Piqué's comments are problematic considering Spain’s historical record of colonialism.

“I think the way he did it was derogatory. It was meant to be an insult of inferiority, and I think that is like the underlying dynamic of his comment,” Aguirre said.

Maycee Campano, a theater major with an emphasis in acting, said she has been keeping up with the Piqué story, adding that they found Piqué's comments to be “out of pocket.”

“All of the successive comments about [Shakira] and her identity are just not necessary, and he really just needs to put that to rest,” Campano said.

Adrian Salguero Guevara, a student worker at USC’s Latinx student center, La CASA, majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish, shared that he actively supported Shakira during her divorce from Piqué but didn’t view Piqué's comments as problematic.

“I did see those comments [people calling Piqué's comments racist and xenophobic]. I personally didn’t see it as that,” Salguero Guevara said, “I think he was just calling out her fan base, and they just happened to be Latin American.”

Shakira responded to Piqué's comment on Twitter, reclaiming the term with the tweet, “Proud to be Latino Americana,” accompanied by the flags of all Latin American countries.

As many debate the racist and xenophobic undertones in Piqué's comment, others also debate whether there are more appropriate terms than “Latino Americana” to include all genders.

Identifying terms such as Latinx, Latino/a and Latine, for example, have emerged in the Spanish-speaking community to include those outside of the gender binary while speaking the traditionally gendered language.

Professor Alvaro Ramirez, a Spanish professor at St. Mary’s College, personally identifies as Latino and discusses the origins of the term Latinx.

“Its origin, to me as I see it, is within the university, within the gender and women’s studies department, where obviously there was a movement towards making language more inclusive to make people visible,” Ramirez said.

He continues to explain that the push for more inclusive language started in the early 2000s, but terms such as Latinx and Latine have been introduced in more recent years. These terms are only utilized in the United States and discussed at the higher education level, where many people outside of the U.S. in Latin American countries haven’t fully adopted any variation of the term Latinx.

As an international student from Colombia, Aguirre first heard the term “Latinx” when he immigrated to the U.S.

Despite American scholars attempting to create an inclusive Spanish language, there is a disconnect between academics and the experiences of the Latinx community, including immigrants, Aguirre said.

“I personally don’t really use the term Latinx or like Latine, because those are terms that aren’t really coined by Latin American people, and they’re not used in Latin America popularly,” Aguirre said. “However, I do think there needs to be work done in inclusive language and making sure that we are being inclusive of people’s identities.”

Aguirre says the Spanish language can naturally evolve to become more inclusive; however, he hopes that residents of Latin American countries can lead that change rather than simply those in the U.S.

Campano shares their preferences and views on being referred to in Spanish, as a gender non-conforming individual.

“As somebody that is gender non-conforming, I really don’t care what people do refer to me. I get a Latino, I get Latina, and I also get Latinx,” Campano said.

Students share that they personally identify with a preferred term, but use Latinx to include non-binary and trans people within the Latinx community.

“When I talk about the community, I use Latinx, just so everyone feels included in the community,” Salguero Guevara said. “I personally identify as Latino, but it’s just being aware that you’re just trying to be inclusive and try to make everyone feel part of the community.”

Although the terms such as Latinx and Latine are highly debated within the community, the fight for inclusive language remains.

“You [young people] are going to be the ones in charge to make those changes or try to make those changes in society so that it becomes more inclusive, more respectful of each other and to make visible everybody in the community,” Ramirez said. “So then no one remains invisible.”