DPWC feats. “Trauma, Tresses, & Truth: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narratives”

The Diasporic Peoples Writing Collective (DPWC) is hosting a literary event, Q&A, and signing feat. the anthology “Trauma, Tresses, and Truth: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narratives.” Our guests are Lyzette Wanzer, Margalynne Armstrong, Jewelle Gomez, and Judy Juanita. This is an in-person event with the exception of our guests Margalynne Armstrong, Jewelle Gomez, and Judy Juanita who will join us via the wonders of technology.
Date: February 9, 6:00 PM (doors open at 5:30 PM) at San Jose State University’s Hammer Theater.
Tickets: free with registration via https://hammertheatre.com/events-list/
Parking: A good option is SJSU’s 4th street garage (West garage), approx. two blocks walking distance from the theater.

Our guests will discuss the experiences that undergird Trauma, Tresses, and Truth. And they will discuss the perennial relevance of Black hair and legal entanglement (i.e., news pertaining to H.R. 5309: The Crown Act) and resistance to encroachments on the natural existence of the Black body.


Black folk continue to have a complex relationship with hair. From grammar and high schools to corporate boardrooms and military squadrons, Black and Afro Latina natural hair continues to confound, transfix, and enrage members of White society. Why, in 2022, is this still the case? Why have we not moved beyond that perennial racist emblem? And why are women so disproportionately affected? Why does our hair become most palatable when it capitulates, and has been subjugated, to resemble Caucasian textures? Who or what is responsible for the web of supervision and surveillance of our hair? Who in our society gets to author the prevailing constitution of acceptable hair and appearance? During this time of emboldened White supremacy, racism, and provocative othering, this work explores how writing about one of the still-remaining systemic biases in schools, academia, and corporate America might lead to greater understanding and respect.

Our guests are clockwise from the top left with their bios below.

Judy Juanita’s poetry and fiction have been published widely, and her plays have been produced in the Bay Area and New York City. She has taught writing at Laney College in Oakland since 1993. In 1968, while attending San Francisco State, Juanita served as editor-in-chief of the Black Panther, the newspaper of the Black Panther Party. Virgin Soul (Viking, 2013) was her debut novel. Ms. Juanita’s writing is archived at Duke University in the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History & Culture, alongside the archives of student activists from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). #judyjuanita

Lyzette Wanzer’s work appears in over twenty-five literary journals, books, and magazines. Her book, TRAUMA, TRESSES, & TRUTH: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narratives (Chicago Review Press) was named an October 2022 Publishers Weekly Best Book, and it appears on Library Journal’s 2022 Top 10 Best Social Sciences Books list. Ms. Wanzer is a contributor to Lyric Essay as Resistance: Truth From the Margins (Wayne State University Press 2023), Civil Liberties United: Diverse Voices from the San Francisco Bay Area (Pease Press 2019), and the multi-award-winning The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2012). #traumatressestruth

Margalynne Armstong, JD, joined the Santa Clara University School of Law faculty in 1987 and serves on the boards of several community organizations. Prior to joining the law faculty at Santa Clara, Professor Armstrong practiced public employment law, served as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County, and directed the Academic Support Program at University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She is widely published in the areas of housing, racial discrimination, and constitutional law. Her recent publications include the article, Are We Nearing the End of Impunity for Taking Black Lives? and coauthored with Stephanie Wildman, new materials for the 2021 reissue of Privilege Revealed (NYU Press). @margalynnearmstrong

Jewelle Gomez is a Cape Verdean, Ioway, and Wampanoag writer, activist, and author of the double Lambda Award-winning novel The Gilda Stories (Firebrand Books). Her play about James Baldwin, Waiting for Giovanni, and her play about Alberta Hunter, Leaving the Blues, were produced in both San Francisco and in New York City. Ms. Gomez’s essays, criticism, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous periodicals, including San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, Village Voice, Ms. magazine, Essence magazine, The Advocate, Callaloo, and Black Scholar. Her work has appeared in such anthologies as Home Girls; Reading Black, Reading Feminist; Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora; and The Oxford World Treasury of Love Stories. #jewellegomez

Special thanks to SJSU’s African American Studies Department which is part of the College of Humanities and the Arts, and thanks to the SJSU student organization, Diasporic Peoples Writing Collective (DPWC). Please forward questions and comments to DPWC2020@gmail.com

There will be books for sale at this event. However, if you plan to make an advance purchase, may we suggest you support a Black-owned bookstore. https://www.marcusbooks.com/book/9781641606707 or https://www.thecollectiveoakland.com/browse/book