Minorities are on the move, and others' ignorance follows them
By Petula Dvorak,
We are blending like never before.
Montgomery County, long synonymous with its white, wealthy, not-living-in-D.C. bastion of Snob-urbia, has seen a dramatic decrease in that population, while Hispanics have become the largest minority.
The number of Volvos is reportedly plummeting as well.
The District has gone from Chocolate City to Latte Land, with a shrinking black population, a growing white one and possibly a Starbucks per-capita rate of 1 to 10.
The latest data released by the Census Bureau are also telling us that Frederick County is growing dramatically thanks to new Asian and Hispanic residents; Prince George's County's dwindling white residents are now equalled by Hispanic folks; and a wave of black residents from D.C. and Prince George's has altered Charles County.
Let me tell you what this boils down to: The food will get better in some 'burbs.
Last month's epic, 13-hour commute might not be a one-time nightmare as more people stretch into the exurbs.
The cultures of our region are mixing, challenging old ideas of who lives where, dismantling geographic stereotypes and making it harder for folks like me to make sweeping generalizations.
The suburbs are becoming as diverse as the city.
So that means we're a happy bag of multicolored M&Ms, right?
That's not what more than 400 lively and sometimes hostile commentators suggested when they opened fire on the story we posted about the Census Bureau's release of these dramatic statistics.
"Montgomery County = California East. Both places are broke yet the remaining whites in both jurisdictions are being taxed to death to pay for it. To MoCo and CA: you got what you deserve," wrote Arkygirl666.
Or there was the death dirge from lori9: "goodbye montgomery, it was nice knowing you when you were affluent."
The pearl-clutching and hand-wringing comments over these population shifts were explained with many stories of there-goes-the-neighborhood woes: Cars parked on lawns. A dozen people packed in a two-bedroom house. English as a foreign language. And, of course, the ridiculous assumption that all the new Hispanic residents are undocumented.
This sounds familiar. It was a while ago, but there was a time when a huge population shift was underway in our country as thousands of immigrants fled their troubled homelands. And what was happening in the neighborhood seriously ticked off a guy we all seem to associate with a kite and a key and a $100 bill.
"Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation," Benjamin Franklin wrote in the 1700s of the thousands of Germans coming into America.
Old Ben went on: "Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion?"
I'm pretty sure the last time the German language had a serious hold on our culture was VW's Fahrvergnuegen campaign.
So if Franklin had a nice four-bedroom colonial in Bethesda today, and he was getting peeved at all the Le Grande markets coming into town, he might've written the same note, with "Montgomery County" substituted in a key place. It probably would've also been in ALL CAPS and posted from his iPad.
It all seems a bit silly now, doesn't it?
The Germans and Irish and Italians and various Slavs all faced great hostility when they arrived here. They were said to cause crime, overpopulation and poverty, not to mention a dumbing-down in public schools. Then they got some work, settled in and blended in just fine.
When you look at the changing demographics of our region, the big question on everyone's mind is, where are the white people going?
It's not that hard to figure out. Some are moving to the city; some are heading to the exurbs. Others are simply dying, and their offspring aren't having many kids of their own.
And in the end, does it really matter?
Within a few generations, we'll be so intermingled, married and mixed that no one will be able to accurately fill in all those boxes on the census form.
And the food? It'll be really good.
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