Toward a Mestiza Consciousness: Breaking Down Identity Barriers College

Identity is a force that has the potential to both unite and alienate groups and individuals. While belonging to a group can enrich one’s value of their own identity and foster meaningful connections, it also creates barriers that minimize opportunities for connection and equity by creating social distinctions and hierarchies. In her essay “Borderlands / La Frontera,” scholar Gloria Anzaldua approaches issues of identity from a pluralist perspective; she introduces and promotes the idea of a “mestiza consciousness.” Jamaica Kincaid also explores the complexity of identity through her protagonist in “Lucy.” In the novel, Kincaid clearly demarcates Mariah and Lucy, presenting components of their identities that create a barrier too strong to be broken down. The permanence of this barrier is evidenced by the fact that although Lucy and Mariah share commonalities of action and share similar activities in daily life, they are unable to connect on a deeper level because of their lack of common identity. In “Lucy,” differing identities are continuously presented as a dividing characteristic rather than an opportunity for connection. In contrast, Anzaldua’s idea of the “mestiza consciousness” - mestiza translating literally to “mixed,”...

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