The Bay Area is a microcosm of cultural diversity and the natives grew up in a mixed environment and so we don’t have racism in the same way that it exists in other parts of the country. With that said, we have social classism.
Oakland is a good example of this. There are black communities in the rich and poor neighborhoods, and they avoid each other. In fact, during the 1990’s black residents in the Oakland Hills sent their kids to an expensive private high school instead of the local public high school that was located just a few blocks away. I heard that in 2013 the residents in the hills decided to hire security guards to keep the residents at the bottom of the hill out.
In the Bay Area, discrimination is about money. There are no ridiculous street signs that say, “Black people must go home before dark” but if you’re driving an old economy car in an affluent neighborhood then a cop might pull you over regardless of what race you are. That happened to me a few times when I worked at The Home Depot in San Ramon which had become an affluent area. They took my driver’s license for several minutes and then let me go.
San Ramon gained a reputation for affluence during the 1990’s and the money came from Chevron and the companies in the Bishop Ranch business park. Pleasanton was the “poor stepsister” to San Ramon. Livermore and Dublin were the ghetto. However, Silicon Valley’s sphere of influence spread east across the “Sunol Grade” (the section of Highway 680 that crosses Sunol), which helped revitalize Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin.
Most of the older firmly established affluent neighborhoods are located near prestigious universities. For example, U.C. Berkeley graduates built the Mid-Century Contemporary luxury homes in the Orinda Hills. They have a country club but that’s not what it’s about; Lafayette and Moraga didn’t have one for a long time and yet they’re affluent, too. It’s an enormous enclave of U.C. Berkeley Alumni. They push their kids to work really hard in school, and as a result the Acalanes School District has the highest performance ratings. Also, the public schools charge parents about $700 per child at the beginning of every school year and they willingly pay it.
I attended Acalanes High School in Lafayette. The curriculum was similar to my lower division general education classes in college, which came later after graduation. In my opinion, I should have started college as a junior. Acalanes deserves its high performance rating, but with that said, I remember that during my junior year there, the school’s administration expelled a few of my close friends because they had average grades. It means that Acalanes protected their performance rating by getting rid of average students.
Stanford University graduates created wealthy neighborhoods in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Atherton, and Woodside. Eventually, long after those neighborhoods had been firmly established for a very long time, the next generation of graduates converted the largely agricultural Santa Clara County (“the valley of the heart’s delight”) into Silicon Valley which spread east across the peninsula and south to the city of Santa Clara. New housing subdivisions sprang up north in Redwood City, east (across the bay) in Fremont, and south in Sunnyvale and the west side of San Jose.
Now Silicon Valley’s population exceeds the San Francisco Bay Area. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the residents are from overseas. They’re computer scientists working in the tech industry here. During The Great Recession, The U.S. House of Representatives passed an immigration law to make it easier for them to work here because they have finite skills that would make Silicon Valley more competitive on the global market. Congress’ logic made perfect sense, however, the representatives who voted for it knew nothing about the workers’ native cultures at their home countries. Some of them come from the “Lawless Wild West.” Out of that group, some of them refuse to treat others fairly and to comply with state and federal laws here in America. They’re the worst landlords, worst employers, the most dangerous dates, etc.. They have a well deserved reputation for being unconscionable, and they’re the only people in The Bay Area who have a lot of money and yet are still not welcome here.
“New Money” neighborhoods that sprang up during the 1980’s became fodder for more social classism. For example, Blackhawk was not located near a prestigious university and it was not destined to become an enclave for alumni and to develop an outstanding school system. In the beginning it was a new track subdivision outside of Danville that had an unknown country club with a golf course and a few over-the-top mansions. When it became popular the “Old Money” folks in Lamorinda joked that it was for cocaine dealers. My dad opened a law office nearby in downtown Danville at the Clocktower building and two areas of his practice grew rapidly: Real estate and bankruptcies. His clients there didn’t pay their legal bills and so he moved his office to Walnut Creek.
Marin County has a completely different class system altogether. They have firmly established affluent neighborhoods without a prestigious university or an industrial epicenter such as Silicon Valley. Where does their money come from? Antioch and Pittsburg probably have more jobs than Marin county. It’s as if a mysterious invisible ghost dumped an enormous pile of gold coins over the residents in the following cities: Tiberon, Sausalito, Mill Valley, Belvedere, and Ross. However, it left out the residents in San Rafael, the city of Marin, and Novato.