Selena Quintanilla, one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers, would have been celebrating her 50th birthday on Friday, April 16, 2021. Although her life was taken so soon, her family and the Latinx community refuses to let her legacy die.
To date, for the past 26, the music industry continues showering the “Queen of Tejano music” with tributes and posthumous awards, her fandom keeps her songs playing, and the Quintanilla family preserving her name and image to the core.
For the Latinx community, Selena Quintanilla is beyond her worldwide known song “Como La Flor” or her head-bopping track “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” Selena is more than her dance moves and her purple jumpsuit. The forever shining star is a representation of Latinidad.
NPR writer Deborah Paredez shared a piece highlighting the genuine reasons why Selenidad is another form of cultural preservation. According to Paredez, to understand more about the love Latinos and Latinas have for the singer, she reached out to Francisco Vara-Orta, a journalist who has spent the last 17 years reporting Latino-related issues in popular culture. “I think we’re craving stories not just about trauma but stories about success, and Selena’s story is at that intersection,” Vara-Orta said.
“I feel like Selena’s legacy has grown in legitimacy thanks to capitalism in the United States,” he says. “I love and hate that. I think that Selena’s family is probably pushed and pulled in, guarding her legacy so that it’s not colonized and appropriated by other forces. I mean, our food’s been taken from us, our land’s been taken from us, our bodies are policed, so we’re protective of Selena.” And for Paredez “to lay claim to Selena is to reclaim so much of what we’ve lost as a result of centuries of colonialism and cultural appropriation.”
“She was the very first person I witnessed who embodied these two parts of myself, and she did it with such grace,” Maria Garcia, host of the new podcast Anything for Selena, told NPR’s Ari Shapiro, explaining why Quintanilla’s story connects to her. “Even at a young age, it was astounding to me to see a woman who was so proud of this identity that felt like it had been derided by the world.”
Selena Quintanilla is irreplaceable. Her uniqueness makes us wonder every day what she would have been doing today, perhaps collaborating with reggaeton stars or acting in Hollywood. Unfortunately, we would never know, so now, the only thing the Latinx community can do is celebrate her contributions and preserve her name.