The Eastern Shore, with all its natural beauty, has a very troubled history with race — including slavery, segregation and its systemic and contemporary legacies.

The challenge for our communities and consciences stretch beyond the Talbot Boys Confederate statue on the courthouse lawn in Easton. There are also class, gender and other social disparities (including levels of snobbery) that tear away at the fabric of our communities and stunt our collective growth.

Haughtiness, disdain and self-importance do not reflect well on individuals or the communities they might lead and impact. They also reinforce negative images of the Eastern Shore and disrespect the good people who live here.

Contemporary policies, institutions and unfortunately some our neighbors who treat others as “lesser than” because of their race, gender, class or social status need to be challenged more often and with more vigor. That includes at our workplaces, within local governments and in disparities that beleaguer our criminal justice and legal system.

These are issues we need to talk about more honestly and openly.

We should learn from our past on the Eastern Shore. It has many examples to follow and emulate as well as the sobering and upsetting mistreatments we must learn from especially when it comes to the African Americans, immigrants and Native Americans.

Growth is always a point of contention on the Eastern Shore — whether it be a new Bay Bridge, tourists visiting the beaches or transplants moving here with dreaded out-of-state tags.

We know the sentiments of some Delmarva natives as well as some affluent residents who want the growth door closed behind them.

But our personal and community growth, how we learn from our past and treat our neighbors with love, compassion and respect now are paramount.

We need our institutions, our communities and leaders (both elected and in the private sector) to reflect those values and be held to account if they are falling short.

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