The best way to describe my neighborhood of Chevy Chase, Maryland, is wealthy, white, old, and liberal. According to the 2019 United States government census, about 86% of Chevy Chasers were white – 10% higher than the national average. The median age in Chevy Chase is 47 while 38 is the national average age, and, in 2016 election, Chevy Chase residents donated 98% of campaign donations to Hilary Clinton. Indeed, The Guardian, wrote a 2015 article titled, “Chevy Chase, Maryland: the super-rich town that has it all – except diversity”.
Since going to college, I haven’t engaged with my hometown community as much as I had in my adolescence. My connections are probably best maintained through the small tutoring pod I’ve taught since August. The pod consists of three black middle school girls from the neighborhood.
In a way, I am the “other” in my neighborhood. Apart from the girls that I tutor, I don’t see other Black Chevy Chase residents shopping in our local market or walking on the sidewalks.As an “other”, I feel noticed but not ostracized; looked at but not glared at. I recognize that a part of my feeling of belonging comes from the other ways in which I may “fit in.”
In my neighborhood, though race poses as a social distinguisher, the most obvious indicator or “otherness” is socioeconomic status. The people whose labor maintains our lawns manicured and our homes remodeled aren’t truthfully recognized as a central feature of our community. Because their presence isn’t permanent, it often goes unacknowledged. I think “othering” looks different from community to community, but in my neighborhood, the “other” is too ignored to even be acknowledged as “other”.