[Image description: A rendering of cartoon Angélica from the waist up. Cartoon Angélica wears a long-sleeved neon yellowvsweater, black glasses, black and white checker print pants. Her long dark hair falls down her back. She is sitting down, body facing away from the camera, face turned towards her left hand placed on right shoulder. She looks into the camera. In the background is tropical foliage from tropical forests in Puerto Rico. ]
Angélica De Jesús is an interdisciplinary educator, researcher, and artist. Over the past 10 years she has worked across grassroots, academic, public, and non-profit contexts to achieve health justice gains for marginalized peoples in what is currently known as the US.
She is passionate about critical & transnational sovereignties, traditional Black/Indigenous ecological science, and how settler-colonial governance shapes human & more-than-human relationships and efforts to address climate change, especially among small islands.
Angelica has received fellowships from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Virginia Commonwealth University,
Michigan State University, and University of Michigan. She currently works in Grand Rapids, Michigan & orbits around her past/present future relatives of all species across archipelagos of time and space. You can find Angélica in a tree or at @prima.de.afuera (IG) and her blog (here).
A DEEPER DIVE:
Angelica was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to an immigrant mother from Michoacán, Mexico and diasporic father from the US island colony of Puerto Rico. Given her father's work in the military, Angélica spent her first 14 years moving around the US. To process each move, and the forces driving these early relocations, she started writing and drawing the worlds around her. These early reflective and expressive practices gave way to a lifelong love of art, mapping, and building
After more than a decade of living in Virginia, Angelica embarked on two distinct and interrelated life paths: STEM research and community organizing/
strategizing. Alongside completing academic research training at a lab bench, she joined a collective of multi-racial, transnational, and LGBTQ Southerners organizing around multiple issue-areas including immigrant rights, police + prison abolition, gentrification, gendered violence, and reproductive/health justice. Each of these two distinct paths fed into the other. What she learned in organizing spaces
about building campaigns and shifting narratives kept her curious about knowledge production in STEM (how does knowledge move, who moves it, and why?) and in search of decolonial research practices & ethics. What she learned in research labs about grant writing and data analysis/ visualization, kept her curious about how art and data could be used to support the brilliant work of her peers on local and wider levels. Together, these two paths helped Angélica develop a queer, decolonial Black and Indigenous feminist politic that shaped her research and, now, her mamíhood.
In 2014 Angélica moved from Richmond, VA to Michigan where she joined the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Project (IYEP) as a youth mentor and worked in the non-profit and public sector as public health researchers on interdisciplinary projects and campaigns ranging from Medicaid/Medicare policy analysis, maternal and child health improvement, sexual health and STD/STI support programs, water equity, and urban planning.
During her first year as a graduate student, and three months after giving birth to her first child, Angélica joined millions of diasporic, displaced, and island-based Boricuas in providing support to relatives in the after-math of Hurricane Maria in the winter of 2017. This grassroots work solidified her commitment to working towards climate justice through transnational food sovereignty and agroecological work that acknowledges and addresses all harmful aspects of white settler-colonialism.
In her position as prima-de-afuera (cousin from off the island of Puerto Rico) and descendant of rural farmers, Angélica works in a PhD program at Michigan State University studying the impacts of settler-colonial governance on food and other eco- systems in the Caribbean and collaborates with other Black, Indigenous and Black-Indigenous peoples working towards climate justice and critical sovereignty in our respective and related communities across the globe.