By Denise Hernandez
On March 31, 1995, the world lost one of its most prolific and vibrant, young rising stars to a horrific act of violence and greed. In her short but magnificent life, Selena Quintanilla-Perez achieved more than most could ever dream of. She was, and still is, a shining light of grace, humility and beauty for countless people of all ages and all walks of life. Her iconic music, positive attitude, goofy personality, business savvy, and bold fashion sense continue to shape culture today even after all these years.
As a fellow Chicana and Southern Tejana, I connect to Selena in so many ways. She has been a monument as a role model for my life and my work in the community. Selena is my inspiration mostly because she had a pure and giving heart in the face of adversity. She demonstrated her resolve as a woman in a male-dominated, machismo Tejano genre, and also as a Mexican-American in the U.S. English-speaking music scene. She was an advocate for children to stay in school, to live a wholesome life and be their true selves. The Selena Foundation today is run by her family’s company, Q Productions, and serves to give charitable contributions to help children in crisis. As someone who wishes to work with children and their right to a quality education, this continuing legacy in her name holds a very special place in my heart.
Selena inspires me deeply to love who I am (Chicana), what I am (morena) and where I come from (South Texas) unabashedly. The Quintanillas, like Mexican-Americans everywhere, faced their own share of discrimination and rejection due to prejudice. The monumental success of Selena and her family band, Los Dinos, serves as powerful proof that being true to oneself, working hard and overcoming large obstacles to success is possible. As she said, “Be strong minded and always think that the impossible is possible.”
Many remember Selena as the iconic super star she is, but forget beyond the fame and glamour she was a generous, light-hearted and compassionate human being. A proud Mexicana, Selena never forgot her humble roots and never took her impact for granted. She stayed connected to her community, fans, faith and family – something I try to keep central in my life every day.
On what would have been her 44th Birthday, instead of focusing on what was lost, we celebrate the incredible and inspiring life of one of the most brilliant souls and artists the world has ever seen. We celebrate by singing her songs and joining a cumbia, but every day we should all strive to be more like Selena in the expression of positivity, kindness, selflessness and humility.