Recession rattled diversity

Sep 212010
Authors: Abel Oshevire

Ray Suarez said the government’s decision to interfere in the housing market to increase the number of minority individuals who own homes has failed to achieve its goal, even if it had good intention.

“Minorities tend to have lower income and higher unemployment rates than the American family as a whole,” said Suarez, a senior correspondent for PBS’s “NewsHour.”

“Many of these families did not have the cash flow because of these gaps. The government’s solution was to make houses easier to buy,” he said.

Suarez gave the keynote speech at CSU’s Diversity Conference Tuesday night, addressing a large audience of CSU students, employees and members of the Fort Collins community.

Following the conference theme, “What the Recession Revealed,” Suarez touched on issues of immigration, housing and employment and how these issues escalated in the recession.

Loan and mortgage companies loosened credit requirements
encouraging minorities to buy either new-and-cheap homes or old-and-challenging homes.

“The problem with this is that these new homes were closer to interstates, while the older homes were similar to what minorities lived in already,” he said.

Suarez said that as over-lending posed a problem for people trying to become new homeowners, most of these people lost everything –– with “black and brown men” being affected the most when the bubble burst.

“So yes, Bob Marley was right when he said: ‘When it rains, it rains on every man’s roof,’ but what he didn’t say was that every roof is not the same,” Suarez said.

Mary Ontiveros, CSU’s vice president for Diversity, said she was delighted at the Diversity Conference Committee choosing Suarez to be the keynote speaker for the event.

“I think he did an excellent job in not only talking about the effects of the recession, but also providing outstanding background to support this,” Ontiveros said.

Suarez, who has more than 30 years of news experience, started his career as a copy boy, earning just $2 an hour. Earlier in his career, he was the first Latino producer for the ABC Radio Network in New York City.

“I am not trying to brag about being the first Latino producer, I just found it shocking that I was the first in New York, a city with a large population of Latinos,” Suarez said.

A newsroom, Suarez said, should consist of people who can cover anyone, anywhere and at anytime and added that with the changing environment diversity is a necessary ingredient in the newsroom.
When the recession hit, however, minorities lost a little edge in obtaining newsroom positions, he said.

“America is getting more complicated. The newsroom should reflect that,” he said.

Chigozie Okocha, a senior political science major who was attending the event as part of a class, said that he found Suarez’s speech very enlightening and brought up topics that mainstream America often looks over.

“In the earlier stages of the recession, there was a lot of talk about immigration issues, but now that most people feel the recession is over, most of that talk has died down,” Okocha said.

Diversity reporter Abel Oshevire can be reached at

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