On the Divide: Examining Residential Segregation in Marin County, California

Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase B. Clow, PhD

First Reader

Julia van der Ryn, MA


Today, segregation is a term rarely used or heard in public discourse, as it has been illegal in the U.S for the past 50 years. However, despite its illegalization, scholars and sociologists have noted that patterns of segregation are still a prominent feature of many U.S counties, cities and suburbs. Reflecting upon my experiences as a black woman living in an all-white community, this paper offers a critical analysis of the causes and consequences of residential segregation in Marin County, California: a county of urban and suburban communities just 20 minutes north of San Francisco. Despite its liberal image, Marin County is racially segregated. 80% of Marin County residents are white. Two of its minority populations are geographically concentrated: the majority of African-Americans live in Marin City and the majority of Latinos live in the Canal district in San Rafael. Examination of current statistical research reveals that these racially segregated communities suffer from the most social disparity with regards to education, income and standard of living. Current literature suggests that Marin’s affordable housing issue is perpetuating segregation in Marin. The resistance to the creation of low-to-moderate income affordable housing by many Marin residents is fueled by a strong and vocal desire to protect a ‘quality of life’. Research suggests that this attitude stems from a fear of the racialized ‘other’ and the need to preserve white privilege, ultimately contributing to the levels of residential segregation and social inequity experienced by low-income minorities in Marin today.

This document is currently not available here.