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Wayne State University Instructor Alicia Díaz Helps Define Terms That Refer To People of Latin American Descent

Southfield (CW50) - When preparing for this episode of Community Connect on Hispanic Heritage Month, our team came across a plethora of different terms which refer to people of Latin American descent. These terms seemed to be interchangeable or have meaning to different parts of the community, culture, or heritage. To help us define these terms, one of the experts we have on the show, Alicia Díaz, an Instructor at Wayne State University's Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, was generous enough to help.

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Community Connect Host Lisa Germani, with Wayne State University Instructor Alicia Díaz

The terms we hear Latino, Latina, LatinX, Hispanic, and Afro-Latino, to name a few, are all used within the community that is largely referred to as "Latino." Diaz explained how not all of these terms are necessarily accept by everyone in the community.

"People use them interchangeably. Some people dislike all of them, others use some of them, some people will switch back and forth. At the end of the day I think it's about personal choice and how someone feels it elevates their identity."

The evolution of these terms spans decades as the community changes.

"It's related to social change [and] political change... it's also a part of the rising of identities that happened during the 60s and 70s, during the civil rights movement."

The latest term that has been used is "LatinX," which was brought about to show gender inclusivity by having term that refers to both Latino/a.

Diaz also talked about her documentary "Dangerous Times | Rebellious Responses." The documentary was motivated by the stories of LatinX in Detroit are that necessarily tied to the story of the city.

The documentary covers the time of the LatinX community fleeing wars, and Detroit being a way station, like the Underground Railroad, to help people find access into Canada.

Learn more about Wayne State university's Latino/a and Latin American Studies at

Watch Community Connect, Saturday at 7am on CW50


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