After finishing up a post yesterday on the District’s HPV vaccine, I tweeted out a simple message to DCist’s followers: “D.C. is one of two states to mandate the HPV vaccine. How many students get it? Very few.”
It wasn’t but a few minutes before the responses started flowing in, all of them pointing to one undeniable fact: The District isn’t a state. That’s true, and my use of the term “state” was incorrect.
Maybe the decision to use the term was subconsciously stylistic: Sometimes it’s simply easier to refer to the District as a state than a city, place, jurisdiction, colony or federal enclave. Had I not lumped the District in with the 50 states in my tweet yesterday, it would likely have read: “D.C. is only federal enclave to mandate HPV vaccine; Virginia, a state, also does.” Not so sexy.
Or maybe I’m trying to claim a designation for the District that carries with it the very rights that residents have been denied for so long. As a District resident, I’m constantly impressed by how much people seek to dismiss our rightful claims for self-determination and voting rights simply because of a technical title that we lack. (It’s surely not our size, seeing as the District has more people than some of the 50 states.) We’re always reminded that we’re not entitled to congressional representation because the Constitution sets it aside for the “states.” Our local legislation and budgets are scrubbed by Congress because, as they often tell us, we’re little more than a federal city. It’s as if we’re all lesser Americans because we’re not the State of New Columbia, a name that was proposed by the statehood movement in the 1980s. (And if we want to be really picky, it should be the 46 states and four commonwealths, right?)
[Continue reading Martin Austermuhle’s post at DCist.com.]