I have to admit that I found Lugones’ writing style to be mildly infuriating. At first it seemed to be filled with ambiguous references to eggs, mayonnaise, curdling, and not much else. During our recent class discussion about her article, however, I realized that Lugones’ ambiguity is the most effective way to discuss the topic of mestizaje, or mixed identity. Once our discussion had unlocked the meaning behind Lugones’ terminology I became quite interested in her classifications of “thick” and “transparent” group membership.
We all strive to belong to groups in which we can be transparent members because such groups are comfortable and rejuvenating in their familiarity. On the other hand, thickness can be unsettling and even painful. Hence, I brought up the point that the ideal society would be one in which all groups had completely transparent memberships, not in such a way that individuals only belonged to those groups which represented them perfectly, but in the sense that all groups would be representative of all people. The only possible way to arrange group membership thusly would be to make it so that mestizaje was a primary identifier of all groups. In other words, every group would have to make mixed identity its defining characteristics.
Although this may seem ideal, I have since realized that it is actually highly undesirable. For to arrange groups so that they are primarily concerned with representing mixed perspectives and backgrounds is to make political action impossible. How, for example, could a liberal political organization still function as such while giving equal representation to the opposing conservative viewpoint? The term liberal would no longer apply to this organization, but neither would conservative. It would simply be a group of people with no discernable interest and no ability for action. One may object that even political groups should strive to achieve some balance in their perspectives, and I would agree, but there is a difference between such open-mindedness and the inability to formulate an opinion that would result from complete mestizaje.
It is clear then that thickness, to a degree, is necessary for healthy political action. Not only does its tolerance enable groups to act on deeply held and controversial principles, but it also allows us to appreciate other points of view. People will always have unique perspectives that lead to conflict and thickness. However, if every person can learn to value their experiences of thickness in groups as opportunities to understand how others feel in similar situations, this will hopefully lead to more constructive and less violent disagreements between opposing perspectives. It is absurd to think that human beings can ever live in a world without differences of opinion, but it is a real possibility that we can become more rather than less united through the appreciation of these disagreements.