She's beauty, she's grace. She's an interdimensional being with a fondness for the American flag, and in this week's issue of Marvel's America, we finally learn how America Chavez came to identify herself as a Latinx woman.
America Chavez's origins have always been a little bit difficult to explain given the scant amount of information about her past that's been made public since her creation in 2011. During Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's run of Young Avengers, it's revealed that America spent her childhood in the Utopian Parallel, a paradise dimension populated entirely by women, somewhat similar to DC's Themyscira.
Princess America, it turns out, was destined to become the saviour of her people, but she ran away from her home dimension when she learned of her two mothers' deaths. Up until now, it wasn't clear what happened to young America after she tore a hole in reality and left the Utopian Parallel, but in America #3, writer Gabby Rivera presents us with the most logical of answers: America ended up in the Bronx.
Randomly, America stumbles onto a Puerto Rican family's barbecue and, even though she's a stranger to them, they immediately accept her into the family and begin to help America define who she is. Eventually, America leaves the Bronx and begins to seek out other communities established by the earth's Latinx diaspora who, little by little, contribute to the unique ethnic identity that America now claims.
When I spoke with Rivera last month about the nature of America's ethnicity, she told me that she wanted to use the character to unpack some of the ideas at work when people identify them as "Latinx". Typically, people use Latinx as a gender-neutral alternative to "Latino" and "Latina", but here, Rivera's taking the signifier a step further and turning it into a unique state of being.
America Chavez, though she's always read as a Latina on the page, technically has no biological roots in Latin America (see: From another dimension). But it's in Latin American communities from the across the world that America finds acceptance and a fictive kinship through things like language and food. In her own way, America is Latinx in the truest sense of the world — an amalgam of cultures that can't be defined by one static identity.