Selena transformed Tejano music and the Tejana image
During the 1990's, communities in the United States took part in celebrating the Latina celebrity. Deborah Paredez, a doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary Theatre and Drama Program at Northwestern University recognized that the reemergence of the hyper-sexualized Latina performer overlapped with legislative attacks on Latin@os and changed assertions of Latina/o identity, or latinidad. California 's Proposition 187 (1994) was one of theses legislative attacks. Paredez describes Proposition 187 as a statement to deny access to public health care and schooling to all undocumented persons. Although much of Proposition 187 was overturned by federal court decisions, Congress ultimately passed national legislation that enforced some of the proposition's provisions. Nonetheless, the most visible Latina during this time was Selena Quintanilla Perez, whose popularity allowed the visibility of other Latinas throughout the decade and began the Latin Music Boom that exploded in the 1990's. 6
Selena initially achieved extraordinary success and even took part in transforming Tejano music. According to Deborah Paredez, “Tejano music is Latin@o music that emerged from the dynamic Texas-Mexico border region. Within the rhythms of Tejano music, one can trace the legacy of power occupations and negotiations that have marked South Texas ; Mexican rancheras and cumbias collide with German polkas, Afro-Caribbean rhythms and mainstream US pop, hip hop, and country western influences often all within the same song.” 6 Paredez noticed that Selena mastered traditional Tejano musical conventions with selections that included Spanish-language Mariachi ballads, English-language pop love songs, not to mention her performances that highlighted the sexualized Tejana body. Paredez says, “Selena represented and redefined Texas- Mexico culture, while simultaneously succeeding in crossing over aesthetic, cultural, and national borders.” 6 Selena appealed to many different groups of people.
Selena gained overwhelming popularity among diverse Latin@o communities during a period where Latin@os disagreeing about definitions of cultural identity. In the Southwest there are many different dialects to communicate in different situations (e.g. work, home, family etc.). One main dialect is called Spanglish. Some people have negative and some have positive connotations of this dialect. It is seen as positive in the sense that you can belong to two different cultures. On the other hand, it is seen as negative because only people of the Southwest can truly understand Spanglish. As a result, Latin@os speak English as a neutral language. Despite the division of Latin@os, Selena had the ability to bring together Latin@os with Tejano music. The Tejano queen made Tejano music cool and popular among many different groups of people.