2022: Enter the AALL Latinx Caucus!

By Ramon Barajas

The first time I heard the term, “Latinx” was at the Latino Caucus business meeting in Austin during the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). That was also the first time I attended the Latino Caucus business  meeting. My memory of the events that transpired are a little shoddy, but the topic of Latinx was raised closer to the end of the meeting, and the idea of changing the name of the caucus was born. There was no formal motion or action item. We were sent home with an article containing background information on the Latinx movement. I brought the article home with me and digested the arguments for and against. I didn’t give it much thought after that.

A few months later, when I was home for the holidays, I recalled the article and raised it with my brother, who is an ethnic studies professor. We tossed around ideas, but for me it was mostly an educational session to learn more and ask questions. He explained how the label was intended to bring gender equity by replacing the masculine “Latino” with Latinx. Every noun in Spanish is either masculine or feminine. Most nouns that end in –o are masculine and most that end in –a are feminine. In its most simple terms, Latinx is the gender-neutral alternative to Latina or Latino in the English grammatical sense of the word. The debate for and against the term on a cultural and philosophical level is far too complex to distill in this blog post. If anyone is interested in digging deeper into the issue, please see the suggested reading linked below. After discussing the issue with my brother I felt more informed and comfortable, but as life would have it, I got pulled away in other directions and did not revisit the issue for a few years.

Now, fast forward to 2019 when I was recruited to the board and current Chair of the Latino Caucus. One of the first items of discussion was reviving the efforts to change the Caucus name to Latinx Caucus. I was charged with researching the various AALL protocols and procedures for amending the caucus bylaws. My library career has provided me many leadership opportunities to get a sneak peek behind the curtain and see how the sausage is made. Every opportunity has taught me something new. This endeavor was no different. Something that on the surface appeared to be an easy task turned into a 16-month process. AALL maintains a rigid calendar and schedule for processing such things. Our timing for initiating the process lined up with the schedule and although the process was slow, there were no delays or burdensome obstacles. 

The Caucus’s former chair, Victoria De La Torre drafted the amended bylaws and circulated the draft to members in early 2021 in advance of our annual meeting. The Caucus held its annual meeting in July. A motion was made, and the vote passed to approve the amended bylaws. After a few additional procedural measures, the amended bylaws were approved by the AALL Executive Board in November 2021. 

Further reading:

de la Torre, V., & Rodriguez, M. (2020). Claiming Our Diversity, Celebrating Our Common Ground. AALL Spectrum, 24(5), 30-32.

Kim-Prieto, D. C. (2006). La Solucion Seremos Todos (We Will All Be the Solution) Why the AALL Latino Caucus Matters to You. AALL Spectrum, 10(4), 12-43.

Articles about Latinx usage and definition:

What ‘Latinx’ Means — and Why the Label Is Taking Off | Time

What’s Liberating, Not Limiting About Using The Term Latinx – The Chicago Reporter

Latina, Latino, or LatinX? Here’s the history, and why Latine might work better. – Vox


Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. Their essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.