Linda Ronstadt Speaks Up About Her Heritage and Immigrant Rights: 'Mexican Culture Is Not Taco Bell'

Linda Ronstadt es mexicana — and she's proud of it.

The music legend, 74, is set to be part of a new documentary, Linda and the Mockingbirds, which follows her and a San Francisco music youth academy known as Los Cenzontles (Mockingbirds in Nahuatl) as they head to the birthplace of Ronstadt's grandfather: Banámichi in Sonora, Mexico.

The documentary puts Ronstadt's Mexican identity in the spotlight and highlights the power of culture and music to connect with one's roots.

The outspoken legend doesn't shy away from speaking about her identity and how they relate to today's politics in the Trump era. (She previously compared President Donald Trump's treatment of Mexicans to Jews under Hitler in an interview with PEOPLE.)

Linda and the Mockingbirds captures a moment when she and Los Cenzontles visit the U.S.-Mexico border after Trump declared a state of emergency there last year.

The reality, on foot and in person, was much different than Trump's picture.

"We got to see exactly what the 'emergency' was," Ronstadt told The Guardian. "It was a few citizens walking around the streets shopping for groceries or picking up the newspaper."

"There were no hordes of brown people clawing to get across the border," she added. "But, all along, the Trump administration has been encouraging resentment of people from Mexico.”

In the wake of Black Lives Matter demonstrations against racism and police brutality, the "Blue Bayou" singer had a powerful message for Latinos: "keep your powder dry and keep fighting."

"There's a lot of abuses by ICE in the jails, and the private prison corporations are taking advantage of the fact that they can lock people up for long periods of time with utter neglect," she told NPR. "The fact that they're locking children up in cages and separating them from their families, it's just cruel beyond words. It's such a disgrace. People are in the streets rioting — not rioting but they're demonstrating in the streets. They have to keep demonstrating."

Along with politics and racial justice, the singer also taps into her identity and how oftentimes Latinos — and Mexicans specifically — are described as monolithic and "invisible."

"I get impatient because Mexican culture is not Taco Bell. It's a deep, rich culture of various genres and styles," she told Salon this week. "There are [dozens of] different languages in Mexico and people don't realize how different the culture is."

"They can take our land. They can kill us, but they can't take our culture," she told The Guardian.

The singer's mexicanidad, or Mexican-ness, has always played a large role in Ronstadt's life. Although she admits that she was pushed away from tapping into her heritage in her music early on — and, since her skin is white, she was able to pass as such.

"People didn't have a clue I was Mexican unless they grew up with me," she told The Guardian, adding that "Mexican Americans are always made to feel invisible."

After several hit albums in the early '80s, she asked her record label to let her record an all-Spanish album, but the music executives were "horrified."

"But I had to sing those songs or I was going to die," she told the U.K. outlet.

"I was bored with rock 'n' roll," she added. "And I was tired of singing fast songs. I'm a ballad singer. And I like drama and nuance. This music has richer poetic images and more interesting rhythms."

Like she did in her Mexican albums Canciones de Mi Padre, Mas Canciones and Frenesí, the new film follows a group of youngsters as they get in touch with the music and culture of their ancestors — and do so unapologetically.

Linda and the Mockingbirds is available digitally on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

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