Marin ranks worst in racial disparity in new statewide analysis

02/15/2018

Life in Marin County differs drastically by race, according to a new report by a statewide civil rights and social justice organization, and Marin tops the list as the most racially disparate county in California. Race Counts, an extensive online data analysis that used census and government information to illustrate racial disparity in the state’s 58 counties, details disparity across seven areas: crime and justice, democracy, economic opportunity, health access, healthy built environment, housing and education. The lead organization behind the report is Advancement Project California, a nonprofit with offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento and D.C. Researchers found Marin to have “high disparity” in all categories except democracy, with high voter turnout and census participation across all backgrounds. Some of the more startling revelations in the report show that when it comes to housing or insurance, there’s a stark division among residents: nearly one in four Latinos in Marin lack health insurance, and, after paying for rent, Latino households are left with about $16,000 while white households have an average of nearly $60,000. With Marin’s reputation for progressive political views, this racial disparity even came as a shock to the analysts themselves. “We were surprised, and were not expecting Marin to be the number-one county in terms of disparity,” Chris Ringewald, an associate director of research for Advancement Project California, said. “I think the fact it’s also number one in [economic] performance probably plays into that. Overall, the Bay Area is doing well in performance and, off the cuff, I’d attribute a lot of the high performance to tech and financial prosperity. There are some huge gains in the Bay Area, but we’re seeing that racially, these gains aren’t being distributed equally.” Mr. Ringewald said researchers had hypothesized that progressive counties would be more equal. “It’s not that progressive counties have it all figured out,” Mr. Ringewald said. The report also listed Imperial County, a less affluent and more racially diverse region in southern California, directly behind Marin in disparity. Advancement Project California will continue to dole out data—their next report, which highlights racial disparity by city, will be released in the next six months—and a community forum co-hosted by the Marin County Human Rights Commission and the Marin Communications Forum has been scheduled for next month at Embassy Suites, in San Rafael. The Race Counts report is available at racecounts.org. The community forum on the report will be held on Monday, March 26 at 9 a.m. at the Embassy Suites (101 McInnis Parkway), in San Rafael.