Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1998

Abstract

This Article examines why the assumption of sameness is so pervasive in our society, and why the very idea of diversity is so resisted. The assumption and the corollary mandate to be the same are embedded in American cultural ideology, in how Americans think of themselves, in the stories that we tell regarding who we are and where we come from, in how we construct our values and norms, and in how Americans make sense of our chaotic social world. The assumption and mandate of sameness not only influence American culture, they also guide judges' thinking and decision-making in key equal protection decisions. When the United States Supreme Court asserts that equal protection is an individual right, that we are all one people--American, and that to recognize different distinct cultural groups per se undermines constitutional values and American tradition, the Court is not interpreting constitutional law. Rather, the Court is asserting American ideology. However, this ideology is not inclusive of all Americans. It is one that constructs hegemony in favor of White Americans and those who can fall within the White ethnic narrative of assimilation.

This Article shows that the myth of sameness is an ideological construction that is vigorously contested by the canon battles taking place in the social sciences and among political theorists. The Article also explains how social sciences, such as psychology and sociology, capture the depth of our differences and reveal that the promise of assimilation is a promise that has only been available to White ethnics, and even then, not uniformly. Thus, the trans-disciplinary critique of the homogeneity assumption and mandate offers constitutional interpretation two things--(1) a lens that can create the distance necessary to question the premises of the assumption and mandate of sameness and (2) guidelines of how to better conceptualize and understand intergroup difference. If we are to live up to our liberal ideals, we must understand American culture, how ideology constructs it, and how social science debunks it. Only then can we finally begin to establish the groundwork for an inclusive and unified society. The homogeneity assumption and mandate is unjust and fails to unify a complex and diverse society under a conception of justice that is just for all, and not just those who benefit from the dominant story we currently tell about ourselves, the White ethnic narrative.

Publication Citation

72 Tulane L. Rev. 1493 (1998).