I’m something of an expert on grief.

I have written and spoken extensively about it, including my memoir about my husband’s death. I even appeared on the “Today” show alongside noted grief expert David Kessler, who co-authored a book with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the creator of the concept of the five stages of grieving. So I’m really good at spotting where a bereft person falls on that spectrum.

Right now, Baltimore is deeply in grief, and I think a lot of us are currently in the anger stage.

We might be here a good, long while.

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Our anger is not just out of the helplessness we feel over what happened to the Francis Scott Key Bridge, but at the absolutely asinine responses across the media — social, televised and otherwise.

It’s not enough that we’re coping with the loss of six of our neighbors, thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in lost wages each day and billions in trade. No, we have to process that along with a relentless barrage of racism, conspiracy theories and general ignorance from people who can’t separate the widespread national and international economic impact from just really, really hating Baltimore. Cutting off your nose to spite the Black people. Idiots.

It’s politicians. It’s my fellow media professionals. It’s ”Saturday Night Live.” It’s various crackpots who’ve seized on a tragedy to further stomp us when we’re down.

We’re going to do what we have to do — Maryland tough, Baltimore strong and all that. But it’s incredibly cruel to have to fight our way out of this pain while pushing back against various entities who see Baltimore and her people as a punchline, a cautionary tale and a Black city that’s fair game for everyone’s speculation and scorn.

It’s sad and desperate here. But by all means, Michael Che, use us as a lazy slap at President Biden. It’s not like anybody died or anything.

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Oh, wait.

I watched the tragedy unfold from my friends’ beach house on the Delaware shore, where a bunch of us were enjoying a quiet, windy spring break. I literally found out about the crash in a post from an online friend, legendary comedian and SNL alum Ellen Cleghorne, who knows I’m from Baltimore and asked me: “Is this like a major bridge?”

Yes, ma’am. It is … I mean, it was.

Since then, I’ve gotten unbelievable messages of support, but also read some of the stupidest crap imaginable. The attacks have made me and other Baltimoreans so angry that we can’t hide it anymore. I wrote in my memoir about how grief eliminates your filter and ability to politely endure stupidity. Almost nine years after my husband’s death, I can tell you there are people who said the dumbest stuff to me that are lucky that I had friends and family stopping me from throwing hands. “They’re not worth going to jail over,” my mother said.

I recognized that same “Not today, Satan” frustration in the face of Gov. Wes Moore, firmly rebuffing CNN anchor Dana Bash’s clumsy attempt to “Gotcha!” him into a sound bite about racists blaming the tragedy on diversity policies, even when she doubled down and mentioned Mayor Brandon Scott’s comments about being called a “DEI mayor.”

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If I was the governor standing near the site where crews were still trying to recover bodies and wreckage and was asked that, I’d have said, “Girl, are you for real?” — which is why I will never be governor. Moore had a better answer. “My response is that I’ve got no time for foolishness,” he said tersely, because I think he wanted her to know he recognized not only the ridiculousness of those claims, but of Bash posing that question in the first place.

“Is this racism?” she asked unsteadily, as if she hadn’t imagined that Moore was an actual human being who’s trying to lead a hobbled, hurting state and a city in which bias is a daily obstacle. He’s not just a quote machine. He again refused to address that, but yes, Dana, this is racism. You know it’s racism. But you wanted him to say it for your clicks and your ratings. It’s disgusting to have to call out the poison that’s being injected into you. It’s a damn tumor — and it’s not benign.

Moore had the same response, albeit less charged, when MSNBC’s Alicia Menendez brought up some of those same racist allegations that she called “too stupid and too cruel to repeat.” Since she didn’t actually say them, I wonder if she was talking about the various current and would-be politicians claiming “DEI did this,” or former congressman and forever troll Newt Gingrich asking why the federal government was being asked to rebuild the bridge. (It’s because it’s part of the federal interstate system and of national financial interest, you ghoul.)

Look, we get it. You don’t like us. You think we’re too Black, too criminal, too broken to rate sympathy. The gentlemen who died were Latino immigrants, so their deaths are less important than an opportunity to stand on our necks.

Read that sentence back. That makes you the villain. That makes you the gross ones. We see you. And we’re over it. We expect this, because we’ve been this Black and this Baltimorean for a long time.

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There are already efforts to reopen the channel as officials continue the grim task of recovery. Efforts are being made to do the best we can to protect families and incomes while we grieve. But don’t mistake our lack of thrown hands as weakness. You expect that of us because we’re thugs, right? We’re “The Wire.”

Nah, son. We’re not going to give you the satisfaction of snapping because we want to be at work and not in jail. But understand that we’re holding back because it works for us. We’re mad. And sick and tired.

It’s not the time to come for us. Do with that what you will.

Leslie Gray Streeter is a columnist excited about telling Baltimore stories — about us and the things that we care about, that touch us, that tickle us and that make us tick, from parenting to pop culture to the perfect crab cake. She is especially psyched about discussions that we don't usually have. Open mind and a sense of humor required.

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