Thursday, October 1, 2015

Diversity Committee: I Hope You Dance…

By Victoria Cruz-Garcia 

     Someone once told me that diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance. The members of the Hillsborough County Bar Association proudly dance together and quite often. We are proud to have a great many voluntary bar associations that represent the great diversity of our profession and community.

     Our voluntary bar associations have often worked together for the greater good. Not too long ago, the HCBA, the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association (THBA), the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers (HAWL), and the George Edgecomb Bar Association (GEBA) came together to present a program titled “A Lesson on Modern Day Slavery.” This program focused on educating our members, attorneys, and the community at large about the devastating effects of human trafficking in our community. In June, we joined forces again to honor Latino and African-American veterans who fought during the World War II-Korean War-Vietnam War eras, when their service was undermined by societal prejudices and biases. And just recently, at the annual Salsa, Soul & Sass event, the THBA, GEBA, and HAWL came together to not only have a good time and for fellowship but to also raise funds for Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, S.C.

     The number of voluntary bar associations continues to grow. For example, just recently, local attorneys came together to found the Hillsborough County Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Bar Association.

     Recent events have proven our country to be the embodiment of the "quilt" ideal. A combination of traditions that come together like patchwork to rally behind a core set of values. Our diverse bar associations work toward this goal at a local level. At our best, we believe that our mission is in fact uniquely American. We have different skin colors. We have different ideas about religious faith. We look different, but at our core, we are all American.

     Locally, our passion is for the law and our community. Certainly the tragic events that transpired in Charleston have reflected the worst and best of our humanity, but most importantly they have shown that there is hope as we move forward. Hope is shown through our lawyers and professionals who embrace diversity and who continue to fight, both in their individual and professional lives, for equality for all. We know that by supporting one another as voluntary bar associations, we learn from one another.

     At the heart of bringing together these bar associations, values, and ideas is the HCBA Diversity Committee. This special committee works to improve and promote diversity in the legal profession. The committee focuses its work on retaining lawyers with diverse backgrounds and informing the broader legal community about issues surrounding diversity and inclusion.

     So we invite you to join the HCBA Diversity Committee. We meet every month and collaborate together for unity and equality.