Maria Garcia, who grew up on both sides of the Mexico border, says she struggled with her cultural identity as a young girl.
“Like many people from the border, I felt this sort of pull in both places,” Garcia said. “Like half of me was missing.”
Garcia then discovered Selena and said her life was forever changed.
“It was like this whole new possibility because Selena was herself on both sides of the border.”
It’s why Garcia, who is the senior editor of the Arts and Culture team at NPR Boston, created her “Anything for Selena” podcast that launched this week.
It’s a podcast that examines the depth of Selena’s legacy and impact on the Latino community.
“This podcast is a culmination of sort of this lifelong quest to understand why she has been such a cornerstone in my life but also in the culture to really do her legacy justice,” Garcia said. “We go deep on her impact, on her cultural impact in a way that I really believe has never been done before.”
She says Selena was uncompromisingly herself. She believes that everything about her, whether she chose it or not, people have assigned meaning to.
“Her hoops, the texture of her hair, her brown skin-- the rhinestones and the working-class Mexican American aesthetic..... the red lips-- pronouncing her features rather than hiding them....” Garcia explained. “They were all sort of symbols that one could ascend in American society that one could make it without giving parts of yourself that made you, you--without compromising your roots.”
The nine half-hour-long episodes cover several areas of Selena’s impact, from body politics and the ideal beauty standard, to an analysis of Selena as a cultural symbol. Garcia says she paired these topics with rigorous fact-finding journalism and her personal story.
“Ultimately it’s a personal story of me as a woman trying to figure out where I belong in this country with Selena being this vessel to understand all of these things about race, identity and belonging in America,” Garcia said.
Episodes of Anything for Selena is available to stream or download on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.