Feministing Jamz: Honoring Selena’s legacy

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, singer, designer, actress and a huge symbol of visibility, diversity, and strength for so many Latinxs today. 

A Mexican-American Tejana who sang in Spanish, Selena came into the music scene when there weren’t many other hyper-visible successful Latina role models. Many argue that she was one of the first crossover artists, soon followed by people like Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, and Ricky Martin.

“In the mid to late 1990s, Latino artists (singing in Spanish and English) were “entering” mainstream (and white) America. … [At the same time,] the Census started releasing data showing that Latinos were predicted to become the next “majority-minority.” In 1994, NAFTA was signed, triggering economic turbulence in Mexico. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which permitted local police to work with ICE to deport undocumented workers, was passed. States with high percentage of Latinos like Texas and California eliminated Affirmative Action at its public universities. Academics and activists began to use the word “globalization” as a negative force that destroyed economies and cultural traditions in Latin America, resulting in more migrations to the United States.”

Many young women still look to Selena as a symbol of someone who “made it” from a humble background, and an affirmation that brown women can one day see themselves equally represented in positions of influence. Read the rest of Alcántara’s article, and check out what other folks are saying about the anniversary of Selena’s death at #Selena20.

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Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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