Entre a Mi Mundo
I can’t remember a time where I didn’t love Selena. Her music fills my earliest memories. I can recall the days that my mother would play me her albums and the house would be filled with cumbia beats and Tejano rhythms. I remember playing with my cousin, pretending to be her on stage. We would wear our mini bustiers and bedazzled hats, with hair-brush microphones, singing our favorite songs. Of course, we didn’t know it then, but her music would help us define us in the years to come.
Selena was the first person I saw that looked like me, who’s life reflected mine. She was a young, fierce, talented Mexican-American who grew up in the Southwest. She came from a strong, musical family, just like I did. Her music fused traditional Latin music and popular culture together. And her message, just like her personality, was powerful and positive.
I truly believe that having Selena in my life helped me navigate my own identity and place in this world. No matter what I was feeling, Selena was there. If I felt out of place or insecure, Selena taught me to be comfortable standing out. And if I ever felt as if I was limited, Selena showed me that anything was possible when you follow your dreams.
Como La Flor
I remember the day Selena died vividly. Although I was only four years old, I can recall walking into the dark living room where the TV was turned to Univision and my mother sat in tears. She held me tightly and tried to explain to me what happened – that this young woman I grew to adore, who’s music filled our home, had been brutally murdered. I don’t think I understood the gravity of the situation, but I remember being overwhelmingly sad and heartbroken. This was the first time I experienced the loss of someone I loved.
Much like the rose given by a lover, the love for Selena is undying and everlasting. Immediately, there was a huge out pouring of love and support from her fans. No one was ready to let go of Selena, to simply forget her life and her music, and so too came the determination to never let her fade away.
When the biopic of her life was released, the whole world got to see who Selena was and fall in love with her all over again. The film allowed me to feel an even deeper connection with my icon. Many brown girls, like myself, deeply resonated with her journey towards finding and embracing her culture and identity. We understood the struggle of “not being Mexican enough for the Mexicans, and not being American enough for the Americans”, of not speaking perfect Spanish, of trying to find ways to blend current trends with traditions. However, despite her own struggles, these things never stopped Selena from being exactly who she was and her eventual rise as the Queen of Tejano music.
Dreaming of You
Selena showed the world the power of the Latina. That we were beautiful, powerful, unapologetically strong, and that our stories would resonate with the world. She broke barriers that made it possible for dozens of other women that would follow in her footsteps – Jennifer Lopez, Jenni Rivera, Selena Gomez. All of them were able to reach a level of success that would not have been possible without Selena Quintanilla.
Twenty years after her death, Selena is still making waves. MAC Cosmetics released a line to commemorate her iconic make up looks, Madame Tussaud’s unveiled a wax figure. She is still winning awards for her music and compellation discs continue to be released. The yearly Festival De La Flor in Corpus Cristi, TX celebrates her life, style and her music. Her fans and family will ensure that her legacy lives on and that the memory of her never fades.
Selena was an icon for me, someone I looked up to, who emulated all that I could ever dream to be. She allowed me to feel strong and confident. She showed me that I was capable and unstoppable. But above all taught me some very important lessons – To always be proud of my culture, to be a beacon of positivity for others, to work hard for my passions, to love fearlessly. But most important is the lesson to make every day count, for we never know when our last day will come.
Que viva la Reina de Tejano, para siempre.
Con Mucho Amor,
Photography: Stephanie Rosa
Location: South Central Los Angeles & Plaza De La Raza