Jenni Rivera Fought For Women, Immigrants and LGBT Youth
Mexican-American singer and reality TV star Jenni Rivera poses during an interview in Los Angeles Thursday, March 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
This article originally appeared on Colorlines.com.
After hours of speculation Mexican officials announced late Sunday that a plane carrying Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera was found and that they believed there were no survivors.
Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico's transportation and communications minister, said authorities found what remained of the plane in mountainous terrain in northeastern Mexico, just south of Monterrey, on Sunday night.
"My son Lupillo told me that effectively it was Jenni's plane that crashed and that everyone on board died," her father, Pedro Rivera, told dozens of reporters gathered in front of his Los Angeles-area home. "I believe my daughter's body is unrecognizable."
Rivera's family will travel to Mexico on Tuesday to help identify her remains and they plan on transporting the body to Los Angeles for services, according to Televisa.
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Rivera was born and raised in Long Beach, California. She was fluent in Spanish, English and Spanglish and had fans on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
For many Latinos she was a symbol of successfully straddling two cultures. She grew up in a Spanish-speaking home with Mexican traditions and attended Long Beach Unified School District schools that taught in English. And she believed that both the English and Spanish language were equally as important.
Rivera gained notoriety singing a traditional style of music usually reserved for men and was succesful in both Mexico and the United States. She was a judge on Mexico's version of "The Voice" and most recently signed a deal with ABC to star in her own television show on the U.S. network. Rivera was supposed to star in the show as a "strong, middle-class, single Latina woman working to raise a family" while fighting the cultural perception that she needed a man to do it.
Rivera's makeup artist uploaded a picture to Instagram shortly before the plane took off. Rivera is believed to have boarded the aircraft with her publicist Arturo Rivera; stylist Jorge Sanchez; makeup artist Jacobo Lienares; attorney Mario Macias; and the pilots. "We getting Back To Mexico City.....jenni Rivera ,Arturo , Gigi and Me.. Los Amooo!"
The new show looked promising and included big names behind iconic sitcoms like Designing Women, Full House and Family Matters.
Rivera was someone who stood up for what she believed in. She never held back and oftentimes she found herself in the center of controversies. Most recently a divorce and a very public flight with her oldest daughter made headline news.
But Rivera also stood up for several causes that were close to her heart, most notably the rights of those who have experienced domestic and sexual abuse.
While attending Long Beach Poly High School, Rivera became pregnant with the first of her five children, and eventually married the child's father, José Trinidad Marín in 2006. Marín was later convicted of raping Rivera's daughter and a sister-in-law.
That experience lead her to champion the rights of single mothers, young mothers and those who have experienced sexual violence. Her songs became anthems for many women.
On August 6, 2010, Jenni Rivera was named spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Battered Women and Domestic Violence in Los Angeles. "In her life, Jenni has fought for women's rights, for protection of children subject to abuse, and had dedicated herself to the empowerment and protection of battered women everywhere," read a press release announcing Rivera's appointment.
That same day, the L.A. City Council officially named August 6th Jenni Rivera Day in honor of her work in the community.
Rivera was also outspoken about other political issues.
She was one of the first celebrities to call Arizona's SB1070 law "racist" and attended marches in Arizona.
"[SB1070] is an injustice, it's discriminatory, it's hate, it doesn't respect humanity and it's racist," Rivera told reporters at a 2010 march in Arizona. Rivera marched with immigrant rights groups for five miles in 110 degree heat and would end up in an emergency room that night as a result.
To express her support for LGBT youth and to stand up against bullying Rivera participated in Spirit Day in 2011. GLAAD points out Rivera performed in a purple dress at the Billboard Awards for Mexican music to honor those young people who lost their lives to suicide and to take a stand against bullying.
Rivera is said to have been excited about her new show with ABC because she would travel less.
Univision's lead entertainment (and gossip) reporter Raul "El Gordo" De Molina said Sunday Rivera had expressed fear that something would happen to her because she was traveling so much. "She told me 'Raul, I'm putting my life at risk every weekend traveling so much, I don't want to keep presenting myself at all these places because I don't know what's going to happen.'"
The fear of dying was something she had felt years before.
After a 2003 car accident, Rivera wrote a song titled "Cuando Se Muere Una Dama" which translates to "When a Lady Dies." The song is about how she would like to be remembered.
An excerpt from "Cuando Se Muere Una Dama" is below:
I want one last celebration at my funeral
all those who loved me will have to celebrate
remembering my smile and the way I cry
I was a strong guerillera
I fought hard for my children
Remember well that in life
Your mother didn't break
With my head held high
With honor say goodbye
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