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Why Selena is a Role Model for Latinas in the United States

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Selena Quintanilla- better known as Selena- is an icon not only in the Hispanic community but worldwide. She paved the way for other Latinx artists in the United States (ever wonder why Spanish music is prevalent on the charts?) and her legacy lives on through her music and character despite her tragic death at only twenty-three.

I discovered Selena’s music during quarantine when I stumbled upon one of my mother’s cassette tapes from the 90s. After popping it into my stereo, I didn’t stop listening until I had the words nearly memorized to the entire album.

Now, I am a huge Selena fan. I’ve been for the past two Halloween’s, and, according to Spotify Wrapped, I am in the top 0.5% of her listeners. However, I am not just an avid listener and fan of Selena’s music. Her legacy has much more significance to me.

As a Latina born in the United States in a predominantly white school district, I struggled with my identity greatly. Being white-passing did not help with my decision to embrace my culture. I was constantly faced with backhanded comments: “Tatiana is trying TOO hard to be Hispanic. She’s white!” To be fair, I AM white in the sense that my father is. However, my Latinx blood is still in me, and I will never let anyone diminish that significance! In fact, I always say “ser Tica es el mejor regalo que mi madre me ha dado,” which means “being Tica (Costa Rican) is the best gift my mother has given me.” (Also, disclaimer: Latinidad is an ethnicity, not a race! So people’s comments were pretty uneducated anyway.)

Through learning about Selena’s story, I learned that I can embrace my culture despite what others think and say. Just like Selena, English was my first language, and it was a motivated struggle to learn Spanish. However, because of my love for my culture and the desire to communicate with my Spanish-speaking family, I conquered my mother’s natural tongue. 

Similarly, Selena was a United States-born Latina, as she was Mexican-American. Despite not knowing Spanish, she began to sing in it and eventually learned the language. She united Mexico and the United States through her fandom and became one of the first Latin artists to make the charts in the US with a Spanish hit. She followed her passions despite her status as a singer, opening a salon and creating a fashion line. Evidently, Selena was not one to let anyone put her in a box! She also visited schools in the US to remind students how important education is: despite being on the road throughout most of her high school years, she earned her diploma on her own accord with her determination.

Selena’s pride in her culture, fearlessness in being herself, and overall determination serves as a model for all young Latinas in the United States. We must not fear to embrace who we are- our roots tie us to the richness of our culture, the very essence of our being. Just like Selena, we can be proud of nuestra cultura and utilize it to become our best selves.

Lover of pumpkin pie and curiosity. IUP Nursing 2024
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