Suzanne Bost, in "Mulattas and Mestizas: Representing Mixed Identities in the Americas, 1850-2000," makes this argument as well, though she occasionally is hampered by a dense academic prose style that can obscure her valuable analysis of texts about mixed-race ancestry. She explores a wide range of work, from William Wells Brown's 1853 novel, "Clotel," to modern writings by Cherrie Moraga, Danzy Senna, Alice Walker and Cristina Garcia, as well as an episode of the TV sitcom "Designing Women," which she dissects with sharp eyes.
Bost writes that the experience of race mixing in the Southwest has much to offer our thinking about American race relations. The mestiza model, she says, is "a fluid shifting between languages, races, nations and cultures." Mestizaje often transcends its "tragic" origins in rape and conquest and becomes something hybrid, independent, strong. Bost traces what she calls mestiza "fluidity" to the fact that early conquistadores of the Southwest were encouraged by the Spanish to intermarry with Amerindian noblewomen in order to secure power. Thus, "color alone was not enough to locate an individual's identity in one race or another. Instead, race came to be identified with religion, culture, and behavior."
The author draws interesting parallels between the experiences of people who blur gender lines and people who blur color lines. "Since bi-identity refuses to choose a single identification, it challenges the idea that sexuality is a singular essence," just as biracial identity helps to break down the fictions of race. Bost wants to show how mixture can redefine American identity in empowering ways, how mulattas and mestizas escape "violent containments" by defining themselves. But she worries that current "sensational" celebrations of race mixing -- "popular mixed-race confessions, supermodels and sports heroes" -- will give us the false belief that "we have finally realized our ideals of equality ... [and can] stop questioning ... current balances of power." Her book contains eloquent testimony from writers who are not likely to stop that questioning any time soon.