All Hail Pop Queen Selena, Who Showed Us How to Belong

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Anything for Selena is more than a podcast about the iconic 1990s superstar Selena Quintanilla. It’s a nine-part series about belonging itself. Journalist Maria Garcia documents her own journey as she discovers what it means to love and mourn Selena, and what her legacy can teach us about pop culture and Latinx identity today.

As a fearsomely talented singer and dancer, Selena dazzled on stage with bold red lips and large hoop earrings, wearing sparkly bustiers and tight, high-waisted pants. She mesmerized audiences in Texas and along the US-Mexico border first, then took Mexico by storm. She built a loyal fanbase across the United States and sold millions of albums worldwide. But the devotion she sparked wasn’t a simple case of celebrity. Before she was tragically killed in 1995, she had become the queen of Tejano music and culture, adored by both United States and Mexico for being unapologetically herself, as she navigated both cultures with pride—something that left a huge impression on a young Garcia. Selena’s mere existence sparked mainstream conversations about race, language, and identity.

“The podcast is truly a lifelong culmination of my quest to understand why this woman has meant so much to me and has been a profound flashpoint,” Garcia says on this episode of the Mother Jones Podcast. “I had to go back to little Maria who was new to this country, trying to figure out where she belonged.”

Today, more than 25 years later, we’re still grappling with the loss and meaning of Selena, the cross-cultural phenomenon. Just last Sunday, Selena was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 Grammys; she only received one Grammy in 1994 before her death. For older fans, This recognition brought back memories of Selena at the peak of her career, and joy to a new wave of young Selena Stans, who weren’t even born until after her death.

Anything for Selena is a collaboration between WBUR in Boston and Futuro Studios. Each episode is available in English and in Spanish. This week’s show features MoJo reporter Fernanda Echavarri in conversation with Garcia, and Futuro senior producer Antonia Cereijido.

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