February 2, 2023

Sarah Huckabee Sanders banned the word “Latinx” from official use in the state government within hours of being sworn in as the new governor of Arkansas.

The ban was of seven executive orders she made right after taking the oath on her first day in office, which ranged from targeting critical race theory to an immediate freeze on new government hiring.

Sanders, a Republican, cited a 2020 Pew Research report that found that 3 percent of the Hispanic population nationwide uses the term describe themselves. She also cited the Real Academia Española, a Madrid-based cultural institution that maintains the Spanish language, which rejects the use of “x” as an alternative to “o” and “a” in Spanish. In the executive order, Sanders used the findings to justify the elimination of the term “latinx,” which she considers “culturally insensitive.”

Ed Morales, the author of Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture, told NBC News that Sander’s sudden interest to remove the term Latinx –  a gender-neutral alternative to Latina or Latino — panders to the “anti-woke agenda” increasingly adopted by the Republican party.

“It is something that seems to be tied to things that they object to, which is really anything that prioritizes marginalized people and marginalized points of view,” Morales told NBC News.

Morales also said that the governor seems to have quoted “the one Pew Hispanic report as evidence that people find it offensive or that they reject it” without acknowledging subsequent studies that examine the small rise in the use of the term and the use of other gender neutral alternatives such as “Latine.”

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The governor’s executive order also requires all state offices, departments, and agencies to “revise all existing written materials by replacing the terms ‘Latinx,’ ‘latinx,’ ‘Latinxs,’ or ‘latinxs’ with ‘Hispanic,’ ‘Hispanics,’ ‘Latino,’ ‘Latinos,’ ‘Latina,’ or ‘Latinas’” within 60 days of the order.

Sanders was former president Donald Trump’s longest-serving press secretary, stepping down in June of 2019. The former press secretary often battled with the press corps over Trump’s indefensible behavior and chaotic actions. In an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, she admitted to flat-out lying to the media after the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Her father, Mike Huckabee, was the governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007.

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