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Baltimore’s haters can stay in their joyless suburbs

Baltimore’s haters can stay in their joyless suburbs
Artscape is one of the wondrous events that distinguishes Baltimore from its neighbors. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun)

I read with dismay, then disgust Dan Rodricks’ column about Mr.-Smith-from-Howard-County’s plan to avoid Baltimore completely in the wake of our struggles of the last few years (“The last thing Baltimore needs is more abandonment,” July 9). I have a message for him. Good. Stay away. We don’t want you here.

Baltimore has been my home since the day I was born and, quite frankly, I can hardly imagine living anywhere else. The love I have for this weird, difficult and utterly unique city is all-encompassing. I love Baltimore like one of my children — no matter what she does, no matter how challenging her behavior, no matter how much she sometimes makes me suffer, I will never, ever stop loving her. My love is unconditional and infinite.

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I’ll be here when Baltimore is easy — those gorgeous summer nights when the humidity melts away and the sun burns orange over the rippling harbor, bright June mornings among the crowds of people laughing and talking, jostling to get a better look at some Maryland peaches or tomatoes at one of our many farmers’ markets, lying in the grass at Druid Hill Park watching the the oak leaves turn color in the fall breeze — and I’ll be here when it’s hard. I’ll be here when the murder rate soars, when the city government embarrasses itself over and over again, when the shells of empty row homes stare forlornly back at me as I drive through the west side. I will be here. I will stay. I will love Baltimore through its worst because when it is at its best, there is no better city in the whole world.

People like Mr-Smith-from-Howard-County have no real love for Baltimore. He can’t appreciate how unique and weird and strong and glorious this city is. He doesn’t know the tiny restaurants tucked into old row houses in Federal Hill and Hampden. He doesn’t know the delirious beauty of standing in Graffiti Alley on a Sunday morning, the sunshine glinting off its rainbow walls. The sadness of watching yet another block of houses be demolished. The ache of grief for another life lost, the crack of a gunshot renting the night and waiting with a thudding heart to hear the medic scream past with sirens wailing.

He doesn’t know what it feels like to care, really care about this city and the people who live here. He comes in for Ravens games or a trip to the zoo and leaves again. He sees Baltimore only as a place that exists for his entertainment, and if it can’t entertain him, then what is its worth? Well, over 600,000 people live in this city, Mr. Smith. And it is worth something to us. We need neither your presence nor your opinion. Baltimore will do what it has always done which is fight, and exist, and thrive despite our problems. And we can do that just fine without people like you.

Kathryn Kelley, Baltimore

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