Language is a fluid and powerful tool that reflects social and cultural norms. The words and terms a person uses can demonstrate her/his standpoint and can influence how society perceives certain political, social and cultural issues. Domestic violence within Latin@ communities can intersect with various other issues, and the language used to describe those intersections can support greater social justice awareness in mobilizing communities to bring an end to violence against women, men and children. Being mindful of our language can help us take a social justice stand to ensure that all people who experience or who have experienced violence are respected and provided with the most inclusive resources. As language evolves, it is important that we pay attention to the changes in terminology to describe situations or individuals. Below is a list of relevant terms currently utilized by Casa de Esperanza:
Latin@s: Using “@” in place of the masculine “o” when referring to people or things that are either gender neutral or both masculine and feminine in make-up. This decision reflects the commitment to gender inclusion and recognizes the important contributions that both women and men make to our communities.
Undocumented: Term to refer to someone who currently lacks a stable or official immigration status in the U.S. or another country. No one is born illegal and to refer to a persons’ existence as illegal delegitimizes and excludes that individual. Equally dehumanizing is the use of the term “illegal alien” as it brings an additional exclusionary dimension to an already discriminatory term. The word “alien” in this context reinforces the concept of "not belonging" and therefore gives persons in this category a less deserving or less human status than their counterparts.
Social Capital: The value of natural connections between people – neighbors, friends, family members – that result in a tendency to want to support one another and share resources. These connections – social capital – are a powerful force that is usually unrecognized and untapped by social service agencies, government institutions, etc., in their traditional responses to social issues.