By Alex Blencowe Special to The Miami Times
According to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research Census, the Hispanic population in Florida grew from about 17 percent in 2000, to 23 in 2010, and is expected to reach 27 percent in 2030. The past, present and future of Florida demographics is changing, creating new districts, boundaries and more importantly, changing politics.
Yolanda Cash Jackson, a Becker & Poliakoff lawyer, notable political bridge builder, previous general counsel member of the NAACP and networking guru, expressed these issues and more in her lecture, “Strengthening Your Political Voice,” at the South Dade Democratic Black Caucus (SDDBC ) Ron Brown Chapter meeting. The meeting was held on Saturday, Nov. 7 in the Edward and Arlene Feller Community Room at the Palmetto Bay Village Ludovici Park.
“Florida is getting Browner,” Jackson said, adding that she will have to start brushing up on her Spanish soon. “But at the end of the day, my clients don’t care if I’m Black, white or even green; they just want to see results, and that’s a discussion we are afraid and unwilling to have.”
Jackson said voters leaving the Democratic party are not voting Republican, but becoming independent or unaffiliated, and this crosses multiple ethnic platforms; Florida’s changing demographics have transcended areas and the way people vote.
Although funding is an important factor in changing policies and laws when it comes to education, crime and health care, Jackson believes what groups like SDDBC can really offer state senators are a diverse group of people that accurately represent the diversity of a changing population.
“Every vote counts and people just aren’t showing up,” Jackson said. She stressed that the groups like SDDBC need to reinvent themselves and adapt to their changing environment if they want to accomplish their goals, and senators have to start working on both sides of the aisle.
Florida State Sen. Dwight M. Bullard, who attended the event, said getting young people involved is a challenge, and too often younger demographics create bigger problems because of the desire for quick solutions.
“The changing world creates a false sense of instant gratification,” Bullard said, adding that “creating change overnight” is an idea, although unrealistic, that young people cling to and is part of the problem.
Florida International University law graduate, Daniel Horton, attributes a lack of millennials’ involvement in general politics to the negative campaign strategies of Democrats and Republicans.
“Our generation is leaning independent because we’ve become disenchanted with the political process our parents were involved in,” Horton said. He believes that reaching out to young people and getting them to come forward makes the political process a little easier.
“We see how nasty it can get and how frustrating it is,” said Horton. “You have to make [young people] feel like this is something they want to be involved in.”
SDDBC Vice President Chester Fair Jr. agreed, noting his surprise at the amount of knowledge college students can retain about the political process, having worked closely with them as an educator at Miami Dade College.
“It takes the right time and the right person approaching them and talking to them for that light to go off,” Fair Jr. said.
Jackson, who is known for exposing the harsh but true realities, said the Black Caucus is “aging” and there are fewer young Black women in legislation today than ever before. She said bridging the gap by inviting millennials to the table is key to fostering the type of growth SDDBC needs.
“There are a lot of young Democrats and if you tell them to be somewhere, they will be there,” said Florida International University law student Nicole Peguero, who stresses over the cost of law school tuition. “These topics are relevant to us and these issues will be our issues.”
Jackson agreed saying young democrats are involved and very aggressive when it comes to getting their views out there, especially through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other forms of social media. She highlights communication through new technology as an excellent way of getting more millennials involved in local politics and community initiatives.
As one of the only two women on the Becker & Poliakoff Law Firm’s Senior Management Committee (second only to Jackson), Rosa M. de la Camara said Jackson is a motivational force to be reckoned with, not to mention a natural born leader and a person young women in the firm can emulate. Her efforts to increase women’s standing in law offices led to the creation of Sister to Sister, networking opportunities for young Black women.
“She brings a different life experience to the room and a strong voice. And when she speaks, we listen,” de la Camara said during a phone interview, attributing Jackson’s mentoring abilities to her tireless efforts as an attorney.
Becker & Poliakoff Government Law and Lobbying Chair Bernie Friedman said Jackson is the epitome of what a people person is — an empathetic listener who keeps others cognizant of doing the right thing, and an incredibly ethical person with scrupulous moral values.
“In a white, male dominated society, she can’t be type-cast,” said Friedman, who attests Jackson’s leadership to what he calls “the sweat factor”–being motivated, loyal and oriented, which rises above all else.
“Jackson demonstrates leadership based on her success, hard work and her reputation, not because of any preferential treatment,” he said. “As a role model, she is an advocate who knows how to motivate others.”
You may reach Alex Blencowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.