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Identity, race, gender, stereotypes, community, counting, labeling


This Essay deepens the discussion Professor Levinson began in his lecture for the Richard J. Childress Memorial Lecture at SLU Law, Who Counts?. Professor Levinson explored the question of who counts as a member of the US community, and who gets to decide who counts. Inevitably, given our history of exclusion on the basis of race and sex, questions about belonging and race and sex form a central part of the current debate. Labeling a person with a race and sex presupposes the questions of what makes a person a certain race or sex? This essay explores what identity might mean and some consequences of grouping individuals based on their identity. Going beyond Professor Levinson’s discussion of the political effects of counting, this Essay explores other ways we count and are counted, such as by corporations and businesses, and as property owners.

We have the capability of being counting and counting others. What if, instead of defining a community as an aggregate of individuals, we defined community by shared commitments, resulting in a community’s inability to exclude others?