It is an age-old regional debate that may be confusing to outsiders: Is Baltimore a part of the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area otherwise known as the DMV? Depending on whom you ask, you’ll either be met with a confused look or you’ll get an earful about what Baltimore is.

But as a Baltimorean, I can definitively answer: No. Sure, Baltimore is a city in Maryland, but a majority of Baltimoreans do not consider the city a part of the DMV, based on differences in culture, style and authenticity. Charm City stands out on its own, separate from the region around it.

The first time I experienced those cultural differences was during my high school days. I attended Woodlawn in Baltimore County, which had a diverse group of students like most schools in the region. A student and I would routinely have random debates over whether Baltimore was better than Prince George’s County. I usually never thought too much into those arguments because we were kids and it wasn’t personal. However, during my college days, it was different.

During my time at Morgan State University, those same debates over cultural differences would surface again, but I definitely took them more personally. I went on the defensive because of unnecessary critiques of Baltimore from folks who didn’t have to be here and whose only knowledge of the city was by way of HBO’s series “The Wire.”

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I remember leaving all those conversations knowing one thing: Baltimore and the DMV are not the same.

Culture-wise, Baltimore is known for its own sound in music — like club music. The DMV is known for go-go music. When it comes to food, Baltimore is the city with better food options, while the DMV has the restaurants with a better “aesthetic.” Don’t even get me started on who popularized New Balances ( … it’s Baltimore though.)

But what really re-ignited this debate was basketball phenomenon Angel Reese and her origins. Which territory is she really from?

While national media outlets may think Reese is from the DMV, especially because she’s been grouped in stories with her cousin, fellow NCAA basketball champion Jordan Hawkins, who is from Gaithersburg. But Reese has already claimed her Baltimore roots and proves that she represents her city well.

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The Louisiana State University forward’s response to the accusations she was “classless” and “unsportsmanlike” during the final moments of Sunday’s women’s basketball national championship game was a true representation of who she is and where she comes from.

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Angel Reese, Caitlin Clark exchange is bigger than a gesture

“I don’t fit the narrative. I don’t fit in a box that y’all want me to be in. ‘I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto.’ Y’all told me that all year,” Reese said after in a news conference. “When other people do it, y’all say nothing. So, this was for the girls that look like me, that’s going to speak up on what they believe in.”

Being unapologetic about who she is and what she represents? Reese and her fellow Baltimoreans have that in common.

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There is a reputation among DMV residents and those outside the region that Baltimore is nothing more than “ghetto” and “hood,” and that nothing good can come from the city. And when something positive does come, some DMV residents are quick to claim the bragging rights — suddenly the distinction between Baltimore and Maryland doesn’t matter anymore, and Baltimoreans are quick to call it out.

However, any other time, those same DMV residents like to reduce Baltimore to nothing more than a false reputation of crime and poverty. It is part of the many reasons Baltimoreans are so defensive and protective of their own identity.

Not all DMV residents participate in the nonsensical civil war of cultural differences. Some will say it doesn’t matter and chalk it up to regional differences and move on. But the fact is simply that Baltimore will always operate on its own frequency when it comes to culture, swagger and being unapologetic about its identity, and all the highs and lows that come with it.