The Life (not death) of Selena

31 Mar

selenara14 years ago today, Selena was killed by a single bullet to her back at the age of 23. A lot of Spanglish speaking Latinos can relate to Selena because of what she was: a hard-working young person with a positive attitude and proud of her roots. She was unapologetically Latina with her brown skin, big hoop earrings, crinkled dark hair, and big red lips. Watch any of her performances, and she looks like she’s having. Her husky voice sounded nothing like her Latina pop contemporaries, Latina singers usually prized for sounding “feminine”. And she had paid her dues, working in smoky nightclubs, slowly rising to become an international artist, performing in the biggest arenas in the US, and selling millions of albums, even winning a Grammy. But what’s even more fun is to watch how Selena interacted with her fans. She treated them like friends not fans.

What’s ironic is that it’s Selena’s joy for life that made her so endearing to Latinos. She genuinely seemed grateful for her success. That’s why her death was so poignant, because she seemed to really appreciate life.

It’s not how big Selena might have become but how big she would have become. Selena was able to wake up people who had long felt ignored. Latinos who worked in fields and in offices alike slowly united behind her. Even if “mainstream” didn’t accept her she would have come with a built-in audience. It wasn’t just because they liked her music, but because she represented the best there is in us, what we tell our children: with hard work you can succeed. We would have made sure Selena succeeded, we still do. She deserves it.

Watch how much fun she has singing this song

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2 Responses to “The Life (not death) of Selena”

  1. Johari April 3, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    My parents love Selena.

    I get a lot of Mexican customers in my store since they come right across the border to shop. And there’s this frequent customer who comes in, who looks a lot like the crazy woman who killed Selena.

  2. pharoe April 9, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    Yeah, there’s a lot of ladies that look like Yolanda. Kinda wish there were more girls that looked like Selena instead.

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