DCentric » Native Washingtonian http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU In Your Words: Who Are The Native Washingtonians? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/in-your-words-who-are-the-native-washingtonians/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/in-your-words-who-are-the-native-washingtonians/#comments Tue, 03 Apr 2012 16:34:43 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=15144 Continue reading ]]>

Mad African!: (Broken Sword) / Flickr

Most of D.C.’s newcomers hail from far-away locales rather than Washington’s suburbs, according to recent census estimates. Given that, I asked last week whether someone like me, raised in Maryland but now living in D.C., gets to claim any native Washingtonian status — a title that carries weight in this transient city. A number of you chimed in, both in our comments section and on Twitter.

Some have always felt strong ties to D.C., even if they’re technically from Maryland:

@ @ Born and raised in Silver Spring, and always considered myself a "Washingtonian." Was this wrong?
Cheryl Thompson

E in Rosedale wrote:

I fall into pretty much the same category as you Elahe.  I was raised in Bladensburg/Hyattsville before moving on to other parts of the country and finally settling back in DC about 8 years ago.  I wouldn’t put myself in the same category as someone that was born in DC and never left, but I’m certainly more connected than someone who moved from Iowa 6 months ago.

Really though, what qualifies you as a Washingtonian for me is getting a license, buying a place and getting a job (in or around DC for the job).  In other words, putting down serious roots.

Alice Thornton wrote:

Most “native” Washingtonians don’t even live here anymore (native = having been born here). I stuck around, but most of my family left for other climes. We needed to bring in new people to increase the tax base. I guess with this being the Nation’s Capital it would naturally be transient…

The term “native Washingtonian” can serve as code to distinguish gentrifiers from non-gentrifiers. Mike Madden tweeted that if “native Washington” means “non-gentrifier,” then “your socio-economic status is the only thing that matters.” But, he added, if calling yourself a native Washingtonian is “simply a marker for ‘I’m not totally new here,’ then yes, growing up in the D.C. area counts.”

To that, Clinton Yates tweeted that “there was a time when native/non-native status was not a thing,” and that things changed, to an extent, when ”newcomers chose to self-identify so loudly.”

And then, of course, there were those readers who bucked against the idea that being a “native Washingtonian” should carry any weight at all:

http://t.co/Jiu02aXN "'Native Washingtonian' carries plenty of clout in this transient city." It shouldn't. newcomers should push back
Boo, people who announce that they're native Washingtonians at political forums, booo http://t.co/ENOfOuC6
DC Porcupine

And Shani Hilton over at Washington City Paper wrote:

It’s pretty common for people all over the country to identify with the closest big city. I’ve met lots of people who tell me they’re from L.A. and when I press them, it turns out they mean a city 45 minutes away from L.A. But that doesn’t seem to happen here. But maybe as demographics change, so will the “native Washingtonian” identifier.

Do you think being a “native Washingtonian” should carry a special status? If so, who gets to claim it?


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