Jamie Figueroa: Navigating Generational Trauma and Lost Ancestral Stories
This Week on the Emergence Magazine Podcast
Emergence Magazine is a quarterly online publication exploring the threads connecting ecology, culture, and spirituality. As we experience the desecration of our lands and waters, the extinguishing of species, and a loss of sacred connection to the Earth, we look to emerging stories. Each issue explores a theme through innovative digital media, as well as the written and spoken word. The Emergence Magazine podcast features exclusive interviews, narrated essays, stories, and more.
In this essay, Boricua author Jamie Figueroa brings her pen to the blank pages of her family’s history, exploring writing as a tool of revelation and healing in confronting a legacy of generational trauma and assimilation into a white colonialist culture. “You’re left with an accumulation of blanks, superficial displays you know better than to trust. I am magnetized to what is behind and beneath. I excavate with my pen.”
As she works to uncover the inherited wounds of her ancestors housed in her own bodily cells, she also reaches for a deeper remembering—writing her way into the landscapes and the cultural memories that bring together the pieces of her identity.
Jamie Figueroa is Boricua (Afro-Taíno) by way of Ohio and a long-time resident of northern New Mexico. She is the author of the novel Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer. Her awards include the Truman Capote Scholarship and the Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Arts Award. Her writing has appeared in Epoch, Yellow Medicine Review, Sin Fronteras, McSweeney’s, and American Short Fiction. She is an Assistant Professor at The Institute of American Indian Arts.
Cienna Smith is a Black and Latina illustrator and visual development artist based in New York City. Her artistic practice focuses on creating colorful work that evokes a sense of energy and life and that often delves into surrealism, her Caribbean upbringing, and painting women who look like they could be family. She is the art director for Black Womxn Exhale.