Editor,

Dismayed, but hopeful. During the May 6 “Let’s Talk Housing” Countywide Community Meeting, the idea that Millbrae is “a place in the sun” for all collapsed as presenters clicked through the slides of Millbrae’s Plan. Why is Millbrae’s large new development, which promises to give the area “new identity,” associated with a name most California residents and all Native Americans associate with a colonizing, enslaving oppressor: Serra?

According to the project developer, Mr. Vincent Muzzi, in his March 18, 2015, guest perspective for the San Mateo Daily Journal, Millbrae Serra Station’s name commemorates his parents’ hometown in Italy: Serra San Bruno. Surely there are other ways to celebrate Mr. Muzzi’s family and accomplishments which also honor Millbrae’s inclusive community commitments.

In March 2021, Millbrae was recognized by the National League of Cities with an award for Cultural Diversity. President Kathy Maness stated “NLC is proud to celebrate the City of Millbrae and their commitment to building a welcoming and inclusive community.”

Millbrae, we are accountable. We are obligated. We want to welcome all. Let’s choose a name for the new development that makes us all proud.

Amy Kelly Lauer

Millbrae

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(7) comments

Terence Y

Ms. Lauer – I think that to avoid being hypocritical, you should make the first move and change your name. Wasn’t Amy Clarke one of the more famous Confederate female soldiers? I wonder if her monument was removed in the name of “wokeness.” Wasn’t there a John Kelly who was a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army? Wasn’t there a Matt Lauer in the news a short while back? His reputation, some would say, is less than stellar. This first move will show people that not only will you talk the talk, you’ll walk the walk.

Sfcoolmom

Terence, I am not a development, building, statue, aircraft carrier. I am a living breathing human. I really don't get your point. I am doing lots of walking these days, not just talking. You?

Terence Y

Ms. Sfcoolmom - you have issues with a development named after a parents’ hometown because you’re choosing to erroneously associate the Serra name with someone you’re not fond of. I’m using the same argument. People may have issues with others sharing the same names as you. It’s only fair you change your name, else it sounds like you’re advocating a good for thee but not for me policy. Your letter reminds me of SF’s decision to “cancel” 44 school names (now rescinded), only to find out various names are wholly unrelated to their erroneous assumptions. Maybe in good faith, they’ll first rename SF. Wasn't there a conquistador named Francisco Vazquez de Coronado who wasn’t all that nice to native Americans? BTW, there are some situations where not talking and not walking is the prudent choice.

Dirk van Ulden

Amy - you don't know much or anything at all about Father Junipero Serra. Blaming him for what happened to the natives here is clearly shows that you need to read up on him. He was a man of his time but he and his fellow Franciscans protected the natives from the cruelties by the Spaniards. Also provided for healthcare and education for the first time in their lives. What is interesting about your observation is that slavery was common practice among the native Indians but when perpetrated by the Spaniards it became a crime? If you can submit a more shining example of a major contributor to California's success story, please feel free to do so. You will be scratching your head for a long time.

Sfcoolmom

Hey, Dirk. According to the Association of the Ramaytush Ohlone, Serra is the founder of California missions which destroyed Native peoples and cultures. Statues and other commemorative gestures like naming buildings and huge developments offents many Indigenous peoples of California, especially the Ramaytush Ohlone who are the original peoples of the entire San Francisco Peninsula. He is viewed as an evangelist and colonizer. Healthcare and education for the first time in their lives? You mean Serra's idea, and it seems your idea of those. Let's not confuse assimilation and the white European man's way as the only way.

As for major contributor to California's success story, I did some research. Beyond the obvious issues I have already expressed with not thinking that a system of oppression is something to celebrate, the mission system was out of existence by the time California became a state (and was no longer part of Mexico). Check it out. https://www.history.com/topics/religion/california-missions

wlydecker

"enslave?" Did Serra roundup natives en masse and place them in chains as in the South? He stepped in when soldiers mistreated them. If you want to change a name how about starting with Burlingame. Anson Burlingame was a bigot elected to Congress on the Know Nothing ticket, an anti-Immigrant, anti-Catholic party. this letter may have been written by someone who wants to bring that party back.

Sfcoolmom

Hey there Wlydecker, Sure. Join in. You work on changing the name of Burlingame and I'll focus on a development which hasn't broken ground yet. Appreciate the team work. I do appreciate the insights about Anson Burlingame - I had not done any research on him, and definitely will today. As for my party, i'll decline your suggestion to bring back anything which is named "Know Nothing." Thanks for the kindness. I'm overwhelmed.:)

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