Small No More

Why Selena Matters

While I was working on my next short story, I stumbled on something incredible. Google Doodle had chosen to honor the most inspirational figure in Latin American culture on the 28th anniversary of the release of her first solo-album. What makes it incredible is how insignificant many of us — especially within the Latin American community —have felt because we’re often caught in the middle of America’s race, segregation, and inequality issues. Mostly I would argue, however, is that we choose to remain silent in the face of adversity, believing there will come a day when justice shall prevail. The fact that Google Doodle has chosen to honor Selena means that we no longer have to feel insignificant. We are very much a part of this country as anyone else — whether we arrived legally or illegally, but I won’t get into the politics because to be American is more of an ideal. America’s influence is felt globally — not because of what we’ve done, but because of who we are and what we believe, giving everyone a chance to be American.

Selena matters because she was a true American. She dreamed a dream and saw it turn to gold (literally and figuratively) through hard work and commitment. There was nothing that was going to stop her, and it inspired all of us. I was seven when she died. I cried, but I didn’t fully understand why until now. A piece of that hope and inspiration she exuded was lost. It’s true that her life was cut short by a fellow Latin American, but it was never about race. I guess that’s what makes it even more painful. We all know what it means to struggle, and to see someone succeed only to be brought down is demoralizing. Selena’s death, however, has strengthened our resolve to continue fighting — not just for ourselves or other Latin Americans, but for all people who have ever felt like they were stuck in a horrible situation or couldn’t do something to improve their lives. In the end, we all want to be happy and have our voices heard. That’s what Selena showed us through her life and music. Her spirit lives on, and we no longer have to feel small.