Kanye West created plenty of social media buzz when he had lunch at Latitude 38 in Oxford.
It is not clear if West was here to buy waterfront real estate or was on the Eastern Shore for part of his upstart presidential campaign.
But if Kanye and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, do land on the Mid-Shore, we would love to see them get engaged with our community, especially artists and nonprofits.
There is plenty of wealth living (at least part-time) on the Eastern Shore. There are plenty of entrepreneurs, CEOS and artists that live and visit here.
But not all those neighbors are engaged with the local community.
They are sometimes more involved with the arts communities, charities or churches from where they came from whether it’s Washington D.C., New York or Philadelphia.
We hope that changes. Easton and St. Michaels, for example, have vibrant and emerging arts communities that deserve our support. Cambridge is seeing redevelopments in its historic riverfront downtown.
All those efforts are important to our communities and like many are challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and all its economic, social and public health ramifications.
If Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West do buy some real estate here, they will join a number of other prominent and wealthy residents. They should not get involved locally because they are rich. They should get involved because they live here.
We have neighbors in need and the nonprofits and charities that are essential to helping them have been hit very hard by COVID-19. We have artists and entrepreneurs who have had creative and small business dreams deferred or squashed because of the pandemic.
This is why our president and publisher, Jim Normandin, launched #TogetherTalbot with partners including Konsyl Pharmaceutical, Easton Utilities, the Rotary Club of Easton, the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce and Choptank Transport. A place for all to unite and partake in the betterment of our community at large.
Kanye West’s short visit generated all kinds of publicity and buzz for the Oxford restaurant. Imagine what he and his family could do for local artists, budding entrepreneurs or those working on justice, housing and economic development issues.
There are other residents, who might not be as famous as the Kardashians, who also need to step up more and engage with our community. And that should not be just about writing a check. It can mean mentoring students, small business owners or artists. It can mean helping entrepreneurs or musicians find the right connections. They can help lend credibility to a good cause. Some of us who have been blessed financially, artistically or professionally have an obligation to help our neighbors where we live.
If Kanye West was here for his presidential campaign, that should be welcomed and not chastised. West is not on the ballot in Maryland or a number of other states right now. But he has large platform and hopefully he can help lift our debates on tough issues such as race, abortion and policing. The discourse bar is pretty low right now.
In the end, West’s visit might have just been about lunch and some real estate window shopping. But if he and his family do end up spending some time here on the Shore, they can set an example and help encourage others from all walks to life and tax brackets to get more involved in our community.