La Ramírumba: Taking Pride in my Latinidad

In the final edition of her column, Deputy Arts Editor Angela Ramírez reflects on her support system at The Phoenix, Selena Quintanilla-Perez and her Latina pride.

Since coming to Loyola, I became physically distanced from everything I felt made me Latina. 

My family, their food and most notably, the Spanish language. To reconcile with this disconnect, I turned to Latin music to cure my homesickness — something I wrote in my column’s debut would “hopefully” be cured by the time I graduate.

Well, the time has come. With less than two weeks left until I walk across the stage in Gentile Arena, I reflect upon the creation of “La Ramírumba” and how I aimed to explain my relationship with Latin icons.

From the ever-booming vocal abilities of Celia Cruz’s “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” to Javier Solís’ lust-filled crooning in “Te Amaré Toda La Vida,” every column and its coordinating deep-dive into various artists and their upbringing brought me closer to my heritage through the comfort of my headphones — err headphone, rather, as I’ve unfortunately downgraded to a singular AirPod since the inception of this column.

Even though I stand out as the only Latina on our 15-person editorial staff, I can’t say I’ve ever felt uncomfortable or unwanted.

In addition to being an editor for The Phoenix, I also work as a multicultural ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Alongside my peers, I’d speak with prospective students and their families about my experience at Loyola.

On one occasion during a multicultural student panel, a parent inquired about my experience at The Phoenix after I mentioned that I am one of two people of color on staff.

“Since you’re the only Latina on the newspaper, who is your support system?” she asked. “Who do you identify with?”

Admittedly, I was rather nervous to reply. My voice wavered at first as I spoke into the microphone, making direct eye contact with the parent from the darkened pit of the Damen Cinema. 

My mind flashed back to June when I covered Antojitos Fest — Chicago’s first Latinx comedy festival.

Austin Hojdar, good friend and editor-in-chief, tagged alongside me, and was probably one of the only white men in the room. He didn’t have to be there, but he wanted to support me. Hojdar laughed at Spanish jokes he didn’t fully understand and clapped along to musical interludes —  just happy to be there. 

Following the performers’ final act, the DJ filled the empty space — not already filled with resounding applause — with “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.”

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was born April 16, 1971 — she would have just turned 53 years old had it not been for her tragic death March 31, 1995.

She spearheaded her career through singing in English in the Tejano genre — a fusion of Mexican and U.S. influences interplaying Czech and German polka instrumentals with traditional Spanish vocalizations. 

After gaining popularity, Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., phonetically taught her the Spanish language in order to further propel her cross-cultural influence in the Tejano music realm. 

Five EPs and one performance at the Tejano Music Awards later — a feat unforeseen by critics who’d repeatedly tell Quintanilla Jr. that his daughter would never excel as a woman in Tejano — Selena released her self-titled debut album in October 1989 at 18.

From there, her career would only skyrocket. Her legacy as a boundary-breaking, trailblazing Latin pop artist would have continued had it not been for her tragic death at 23.

Just one year older than I am right now.

I’ve been reflecting on Selena quite often recently, particularly her multiculturality. In interviews with Spanish news and radio stations, she’d occasionally slip up her verb conjugations or vocabulary — vulnerable to criticism from a vast majority of her audience. 

Rather than hiding from embarrassment or being overly apologetic, Selena corrected her mistake, laughed at herself, then continued as normal. As a Latina navigating a white-dominated space, I cannot help but admire Selena’s tenacity and authentic selfhood. 

With Hojdar at my side in the iO Theater for Antojitos Fest, I covered my first Spanglish event in an environment that made me realize I could take pride in my Latina identity — in any space of my choosing, just as Selena did.

So, who’s my support system? Who do I identify with?

My answer is, undoubtedly, Hojdar and the rest of my editing staff. Without them, my silly one-liners on our quote board, my undying desire to have aux on Tuesday nights and the integrity of “La Ramírumba” would cease to exist in its full, unapologetic capacity. 

Thank you for reading this project of mine. I hope it gave you as much joy to read as it gave me to write. Me siento sumamente bendecida en haber compartido este columna con ustedes. Les agradezco todo su apoyo en este tiempo.


Featured image by Aidan Cahill / The Phoenix

Angela Ramírez

Angela Ramírez