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The Latinx Wars: Ep. X – A New Hope (An Update)



So the two Gilberts who I quoted in that post about the Latinx controversy turned out to be two very funny and gracious college students at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College.

(For some stupid reason, I assumed they were professors of said college. Why, I’ll never know. Mea culpa.)

The day after it was posted, they sent me an email, which I’m publishing with their authorization:

From: Gilbert Guerra
Date: Wed, Dec 2, 2015 at 12:10 PM
Subject: Re: You Say “Latinx”, I Say Whatx
To: José Simián
Cc: Gilbert Orbea
Dear Mr. Simián,
We recently read your article about Latinx that on that critiqued our own article about “Latinx” and found it quite funny. We laughed. Ha. Ha.
In all seriousness, we would appreciate it greatly if you could share a bit more of your thoughts on “Latinx” with us. For example, you put forth that Latinos as an all encompassing term is insufficient and patriarchal, while at the same time acknowledging that adding an X to the term won’t do anything to educate simple peasants such as ourselves. What then is your suggested alternative to include non-binary people within Spanish? And what did you think of the other arguments we made in our article?
Please help us in our quest to become less stupider.
Yours sincerely,
The Gilbertx

My reply:

From: José Manuel Simián
Date: Wed, Dec 2, 2015 at 3:21 PM
Subject: Re: You Say “Latinx”, I Say Whatx
To: Gilbert Guerra
Cc: Gilbert Orbea

Dear Messrs. Guerra and Orbea,

Thanks for writing, and for the good sense of humor in spite of my rather unnecessary use of the S-word (as my 7-year old son calls it). As for your alleged peasant status, I doubt it applies to this situation. After all, you are the ones writing a long, thoughtful article in a respectable publication, while I am writing a short post on the fly on a snarky blog and resorting to playground insults.

Moving on to the your text, I quoted that particular section because affirming that “Latinos” is a “gender-neutral term” makes you sound as if you don’t understand the nature of the problem, i.e: that in Spanish the so-called gender-neutral plural terms happen to be the plural male nouns, or to put it in more conceptual terms (as I learned from Catharine MacKinnon when she writes about the alleged gender-neutrality of legal norms), that the male epistemology has become the ontology. I assume that you understand the nature of the problem and the debate, so I’m still puzzled as to why you would make a linguistic argument for the gender neutrality of “Latinos.”

On a related note, I don’t really understand why you argue from Spanish grammar or speak of “linguistic imperialism” as if this debate impacted the Spanish language. If I have followed correctly (and you acknowledge this in your article), the term “Latinx” is used in the United States, and among people who mostly speak English, not Spanish. I don’t see people in Latin America too concerned about this or who feel that their language is threatened. I don’t even see people who predominantly speak Spanish in the United States too concerned about these conceptual matters, either.

To your question, I don’t have a better alternative. Maybe a better term than “Latinx” will emerge and will catch on (it would be great), but I don’t have the answer. This is, sadly, one of those lose-lose situations, in which the solutions (like “Latinx” right now) are sometimes clumsier than the original alternative. In my country of origin, Chile, the first female president, Michelle Bachelet, made a point of addressing Chileans as “chilenos y chilenas” in every speech, and even though it felt good, it was certainly cumbersome. The language will keep evolving, because and in spite of imperialisms and other cultural forces, and maybe one day we’ll have actual gender-neutral words.

Again, thanks for writing. I need to go back to my stupid work now.

All the best,


Even if I disagree with them about this topic, I’m amazed. I wish I could have written something like this while in college. And if you’re not impressed already, you should read this response to their piece, written by two of their fellow students.

A new hope, indeed.



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María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career




According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.

Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.

Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:

“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”

Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:

“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”

If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:

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Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”




I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.

I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”

I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”

She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”

I wasn’t following her logic.

Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.

“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.

“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”

I stared at her in disbelief.

She stood up and walked towards the doorway.

Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.

From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.

Felix III – Journeys the cosmos via Holy Hands Vol. 2. Rents a one-bedroom on Neptune. IG: @Futurefelix / Twitter: @thefuturefelix

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