CO lawmakers (@HouseSalazar) pledge to examine racial, ethnic inequality

Joe Salazar should be the last one involved with this effort

Angela WilliamsTwo Colorado lawmakers plan to push for a comprehensive examination of racial and ethnic inequality in the state as a precursor to future legislation aimed at closing some of the gaps that separate Latinos and African Americans from whites.

State Reps. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and Angela Williams, D-Denver, said they plan to introduce the measure, which would create a commission to take a detailed look at specific areas where racial and ethnic minorities lag in Colorado.

“We hope to heighten the awareness — and that Colorado will stop avoiding this conversation,” Williams said. Inequities can be addressed, she said, “because we’re such a great state.”

The move comes on the heels of “Losing Ground,” an 18-month I-News investigation that found Latinos and African Americans in Colorado are worse off in many ways compared to the state’s white residents than they were before sweeping civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

(Colorado state Rep. Angela Williams, D-Thornton, said at the State Capitol in Denver on Jan. 30 that she and Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Denver, plan to introduce a measure, which would create a commission to take a detailed look at specific areas where racial and ethnic minorities lag in Colorado. / Joe Mahoney/The I-News Network)

Take home ownership. In 1970, almost 60 percent of Latino households were owner-occupied; today, it’s just beneath 50 percent. In measuring family income, I-News found that in 1970 black families earned 73 percent of what white families earned, and Latino families earned 72 percent; by 2010, those numbers had fallen to 60 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

Most experts say that rising racial and ethnic inequities do not bode well for a state in which minorities are the fastest growing population.

It is not clear how much support Salazar and Williams can expect for their proposal, which has not yet been drafted.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said he could not commit to backing the proposed commission until he sees how it would work. And state Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, said that while she wouldn’t necessarily oppose it, she also hoped to consider alternatives to examine the problem.

“I don’t know that I have an objection to what they’re saying, but are resources best used in that way, or should we be looking at work outside the Capitol to sort it out?” Roberts said. “I think we need to have some honest conversation that is devoid of partisan politics.”

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