Emily Gorospe and Valerie Gorospe

Recorded March 11, 2020 Archived March 11, 2020 38:16 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby019740


Emily Gorospe (15) talks with her mother Valerie Ancheta Gorospe (42) about her grandmother, her legacy as an advocate for environmental justice, and how her example has impacted both Valerie and Emily.

Subject Log / Time Code

VAG describes her mother to her daughter, EG. EG reflects on how she perceived her grandmother.
VAG reflects on how she wanted to protect her mother's name and legacy in environmental justice history after her death. EG talks about how she sees her grandmother in her mother.
VAG recalls what it was like when EG had Valley Fever. EG reflects on the fear she felt at that time.
VAG tells EG about a pesticide drift that affected her mother's area and how people had to evacuate. VAG talks about how her mother's advocacy got started.
VAG explains the bill that was passed (SB 391) as a result of pesticide drifting. She remembers how her mother would take everyone to rallies.
VAG talks about starting Luna Circle, providing a space for girls and women to talk.
EG expresses her worry that she won't live up to VAG's or her grandmother's legacy and why she stated Equal Play at school, an effort to get equal treatment for transfer students.
VAG expresses her pride for EG.


  • Emily Gorospe
  • Valerie Gorospe

Recording Location

Beale Memorial Library

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type



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00:03 My name is Valerie. I am 40. My name is Valerie and shut the garage B. I am 42 years old. Today is Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 and we are in Bakersfield California at the Beale Memorial Library and the name of the my interview partner is Emily Theresa, and she's my daughter.

00:32 My name is Emily. Gorospe. I am currently 15 years old. It is Wednesday, March 11th, 2020. We are in Bakersfield California today. I am here interviewing my mother Valerie gorospe.

00:52 So last Wednesday was Grammys birthday. It was a really hard day for the both of us.

01:04 Do you want to make a first couple comments on Grammy?

01:11 About her birthday or just her and general. How was she has a person I'll just to you but everyone.

01:23 She was loving generous fun and

01:31 Chingona

01:34 Growing up. Did you ever feel like you had to live up to her Legacy?

01:42 When I was growing up, I didn't really

01:46 See or think about Legacy or carrying on the Legacy. I knew that I wanted to be like her and I knew that all of my classmates loved her even got jealous of a little girl in first grade because my mom used to come to the class all the time and volunteer and the little girl went up to my mom and hugged her and she was like, I wish you could be mine.

02:13 And I just remember they thinking that's my mom. She's my mom. But that's just how she was everybody loves her. Everybody loves her. I think.

02:26 After I became a mom and I think more so like in my 30s. I was really wanting to be like my mom and then especially now that I am a grandma I really want to be

02:42 A grandma like her as a kid growing up. I would always see her as this fun and joyful person and getting older and becoming a teenager. I see you've lot I see a lot of her traits in you and so throughout your career. What was it like carrying on the legacy of the purpose of side work?

03:12 So I wasn't always working officially on pesticides. So she was an environmental justice Advocate that focused on pesticides the dangers of pesticides and making policies at the local level and at the state level change to make a pesticide use safer for communities and I

03:38 When she got sick in 2013, 20/20 12 2013. I

03:48 Like fought I wanted to make sure that I would do her work that I was the one the person to.

04:01 Do her work while she was sick getting treatment and of course.

04:08 Even more so when she passed away I wanted to make sure that

04:14 Her name her work was respected and carried on so you saw her passing as a motivation.

04:27 I haven't thought about it like that.

04:33 I know that I wanted to.

04:36 Protect her

04:38 Name, can you elaborate that? Yeah, I wanted to make sure that as a woman that her name was not forgotten in the environmental justice movement that she made huge contributions to big changes in the San Joaquin Valley of California and

05:08 I just wanted to

05:13 Let her name carrion in environmental justice history.

05:19 I remember there was one time we went to I spent the night at her house with Ashley and everyone was there and that morning her back was really hurting and someone had asked to go to the store.

05:37 And I could tell that she was in pain but she still went to the store and that day that like it really opened my eyes to see how much of a big heart she had like she was in so much pain yet. She would still do the most for people and I see that a lot in you today and that's why you inspire me to do so much because you I see a lot of you and her you two are very alike. And sometimes it makes me emotional because

06:14 Since you are so alike like her.

06:18 It kind of still feels like she still here.

06:27 Just really warms my heart to think that there's so is a piece of her living in someone else.

06:38 I think she's in all of us.

06:41 I think she's in all of us. She was a beautiful example of love and fun and generosity and

06:49 What?

06:53 Fighting for Injustice has was like, she's you know with all the work that you've done. She's in you I see her and nature I see her and people she's in all of us.

07:13 Back when I had valley fever. I don't remember too much of how she was when I hadn't can you inform me? She was mad she was so mad at

07:30 The Y and especially when you asked

07:34 You asked him. Why did he leave when you asked why did valley fever pick me she was just so angry that these spores could just hit anyone and then especially her Emily and she actually noticed the changes in you before I did and I you know, it was a real eye-opener for me because you know, we're always in earlimart and I just thought that you

08:09 We're just tired and maybe you were having growing pains. And I remember you were on the recliner or on the couch. And she said what is wrong with her.

08:20 She's just tired just taking a nap and she said no Emily is really active. She's you know, always moving. She's always doing something. This is not her. This is not M & R. This is a Miami and this isn't my Emily and I just kind of you know brushed it off and then you do not develop this cough. It wouldn't go away and you were still really tired and I just that well, maybe she's vitamins, you know, I still kept brushing off the symptoms and she would ask me have you taken her to the doctor? Have you had her checked out and so like just has a peas my mom.

09:09 I made an appointment. But before we saw the doctor you woke up one night and you were saying that you had a really bad pain on your side and I didn't understand what the pain was because you're pointing at your ribs, and I thought maybe in dance maybe she twisted wrong. Maybe she turned really fast, you know, maybe I thought it was like muscular. I didn't know what it was. And so when we went to the doctor and they said that you had pneumonia and bronchitis and then I noticed what my mom was noticing the fatigue the extreme fatigue that you had and it wasn't you. So I finally got to see what my mom had seen a long time ago.

10:00 And when

10:03 You know the when I take you to urgent care because the antibiotics weren't working. And of course the antibiotics are going to work on a fungus, you know, a fever and Wells and all of these things were happening. I took it Urgent Care there was a doctor who was in a full-time doctor. It was like the doctor that discovered once in awhile or whatever. He actually was on the valley fever medical team at Kern Medical Center and he looked at your old x-ray which was like a couple of weeks old and looked at your symptoms and looked at you and he basically said I can't give you a definite diagnosis just by this but on everything that you presented today on this x-ray, I think she has valley fever and I think she should get a blood test because that was like the only way to know for sure and he pointed out the spot on the law on your lung.

10:59 And I was mad and then my mom even got more pissed off that like why didn't they catch that before? Why didn't they catch with that low spot on the lung was with all of your symptoms and I just think back like now I'm thinking about how much time was wasted and you know, she just she knew she knew something was off. She knew that there was something wrong with you and she was right. I just remember feeling so weak and this is memory in the back of my head of ice at the old house and I was in my old bed.

11:41 I was feeling so bad that day and you came in the room with a bunch of postcards and they were get well cards and that scared me a little bit because like in my little brain, I'm feeling so horrible and I'm getting these get well cards. I was so confused. I didn't like

12:08 I don't know. It's is such a big trauma because I know when I get like those pains it scares me cuz then I think do I have to go through all that again and

12:27 I don't know who this is such a bad time and cuz you were so limited. I was I couldn't even go to school and when I did go to school I would go in until 12.

12:40 And I couldn't dance at that time that's played really big aspect in my life. And that was all just taken away for me my education my dance life. It was horrible.

13:04 I'm so sorry that you were scared with all of those cards. I didn't realize and I didn't know and I'm so

13:13 Sorry that you

13:15 Help so afraid don't apologize.

13:25 So

13:28 When was the year when the pesticide drift occurred 1999 November and there was houses evacuated and that was due to there was a potato field. So, you know where the almond trees are right now before that it was great finds and on the other side of all of those grapevines was a potato field and the potatoes. So there's certain crops the one we say pesticides. There's a variety there's a herbicides pesticides fumigants and potatoes used fumigants and so fumigants are pesticides that are injected into the ground. So it's not applied with a tractor like in the air or spray tan with an airplane like it's a fumigant that

14:28 Was injected into the ground and the person that was applying those cream against or using the fumigants didn't close the valve on the right way. And so that valve

14:45 The pesticides weren't going into the potatoes because it wasn't closed. Right and so the fumigant drifted this way and so of course Grandma street is the first street. So they were the first ones to feel all of those symptoms into smell that's that pee again because they're the first street so that her street and all of the streets over here, you know, the ones like on the side of the freeway freeway 99 were evacuated so it wasn't all it really work.

15:27 I don't think so. I don't I know that the evacuation site the decontamination site was the middle school, which is closer to Avenue 56 this way.

15:41 So, I don't know if the drift went all the way over there. I know for sure that it went.

15:48 Over here on Lane Oak Elm Olive and those streets. So the middle school is where everyone got hoes down. Yes, and they were stripped from their clothes. They were told to take off their clothes so that they can get they could get hoes down.

16:09 And

16:12 You never told me if Grandma had to do that. She didn't she called me.

16:18 Frantic at that time. She had a blue Dodge Caravan minivan and she wanted to load up all the dogs and my uncle on the road and I'm going to do that lives in the apartments and all of the kids and she was like we need to go to your house. Can we go to your house? And I'm just like, yeah, of course, I don't I didn't understand what was going on. And so she didn't go to the middle school. She like left early mark because she had transportation to do so, but the people who didn't have transportation,

16:58 Had to felt like they had to go to the middle school because that's what the firefighters were telling them. Knocking on the door is telling them to do so she was willing to put

17:09 A car load of dogs and people and people in her car just said he's to get it movie. Yes, and she went back.

17:20 She went back that night. I don't remember the details of her going back and who she talked to but as everything like in the next days and the next week's like she started getting more details about what happened and that sparked her.

17:43 Advocacy and activism in pesticide reform. So would you say that was the start for work? No, I mean as far as a pesticides, yes, but her advocacy started with my brother my little brother Anthony who just turned 28 Saturday this past Saturday he

18:06 Was autistic, but before we even had a diagnosis she was working with him and she wanted him to be mainstream which means not in a special ed class in a special education class. She wanted him to be quote-unquote regular with the quote-unquote regular kids and the schools. Of course I said no because he would need a teacher's aide because he was disruptive and she thought the schools to get him a full-time teacher's aide because they told her it's not in the budget we can't do it. So she had these IEPs which is like a plan and education plan for students.

18:53 And she just made sure that he had the resources and a full-time teachers throughout elementary school middle school and high school.

19:06 Wow.

19:10 And I also noticed her as a kid.

19:16 Just having so much compassion for people on the streets. She just if she had food if she had money if she had like whatever she could she helped people out. I remember this man that I was felt really bad for outside of Mac's Market. I would give him whatever I could because I saw my mom doing that with other people in the streets.

19:42 So she always liked had it in her. She always said that that she was like her dad my grandpa pantaleon on Jetta in that if there is anything that was unfair they brought that to light. They said something about it. They did something about it. And in 2004, there was a law passed SB 391 with Senator Dean floor is there was a lot of it. So people that got pesticides drifted onto them their medical bills would be paid that was part of that was a big part of sb39 one because so many of the people in that November 1999 incident they didn't have insurance and they were responsible for an ambulance rides if they went to the local hospitals like portable Hospital Tulare hospital Visalia Delano, they

20:42 Responsible for those ambulance rides and they were responsible for the emergency room visits with my mom saws.

20:52 Ridiculously unfair and unjust for people who were ejected on and it wasn't their fault. So she wanted to make sure that

21:02 That was made right and SB 391 was one way of making that right so

21:10 It was like I was born into her work totally. I mean you were on her hip you held her hand at many events many rallies many speeches that she'd you know hat or did and you were you were born into it. Yeah. I was always by her side like her marches and stuff, but I honestly don't remember any of that. But what I do remember is just her being so loving and no matter where I would go like everything would remind me of her I would see little things like we would go to Bakersfield or I would see things like on TV and of like people

22:04 Fighting back or taking action and like growing up that would just remind me of her.

22:13 Did she did and she she took everybody with her if it wasn't the kids it was grandkids. It was nieces. It was nephews. I mean there was I mean it was

22:26 We're going to a rally who wants to go. And so I remember there were times where I would stay home so that I can babysit or there were times where I would go and I would get a babysitter for you guys or it was always there was always one of them a lot of kids with her. We have such a big family and there's always so many kids in our family, but she that was everything. She always wanted to take people with her. Oh my gosh. That's what I do.

22:58 What does Jason Voorhees Brian and Gloria?

23:03 CA I see a lot of hurt you.

23:08 So let's talk a little bit about of what you've been doing lately the Luna Circle you want to talk about that if you're driving we can talk about it. Tell me about the Luna Circle. So what we've been doing on it's my own time. It's not work or anything like that. But I mean having a daughter has really opened my eyes to the Injustice has that girl's face. I mean as far as access to menstrual needs access to sex education access to Safe spaces to talk about our bodies and I do know with you and family and friends like hey, I think our first one we called it a. Party. Let's have a. Party and now they've evolved.

24:08 To Luna circles or calling them Luna circles. You know, I'm so glad that Veronica Rose like helping me with this. She's like my partner in this where we provide products. We provide home remedies over the counter remedies and we just had provide spaces to talk about all of the things that girls and women need spaces to talk about things that are hard to talk about and I'm really glad that we've evolved and moved it to where we separating the age groups and if you want to share like why is that important?

24:50 But I am so we separate the groups from Blake adult. Yeah adults to teenagers for young adults kind of and being a part of that being a part of the teenage group. I feel very safe and that group because you'd be surprised on how much we all relate to things and especially because we're so young and some of us have similar experiences just it's it's good to know that people do relate to the things that you're going through. So I like that you

25:40 Made the choice or I like that you inputted separating the group's yeah, and you know a big reason I did that too is for you because even though you know that you can talk to me about anything. You're still a teenage girl. You're still a 15 year old girl who probably doesn't want to talk to her mom about every single thing that is on your mind, and I wanted to give you a space where you could talk to people to be in a space where you can talk about things that maybe you don't feel like talking to me about or you don't want to talk to me about just want to make sure that you have those

26:20 Conversations that you need or spaces where you like? You said feel safe talking about those things. And yeah, I feel like the more Luna Circle meetings or whatever the more that we have these I feel like it's going to get me more comfortable with talking to you anyway, because I don't know it's kind of like going to build up my curtain Lockridge, but it's going to get me in a more comfortable Zone to talk to you about more things.

26:56 Whatever you need, whatever you want whenever.

27:00 Do here.

27:08 So

27:11 Growing up

27:14 I was like you said I was born into Grammys work and

27:21 It's cuz it's difficult because I had Grammy as an activist and I have you as an activist my mother and I'm your only girl so it's it's a lot of pressure on me because

27:45 There is no one else. It's Generations your her oldest. I'm the only girl and

27:54 I'm scared it away because

28:00 I don't know. I feel like I'm not going to be able to live up to you guys and your guys's work. But that's one of the reasons why I did equal pay and why I would go to the board meetings. Even if I didn't want to sometimes I would still like go because in the back of my mind, I would just think if Grammy was here she would want me to do it. So I would go and do sexist teacher is back in middle school. That's why I would say something and I know every every good action or every time I take action or speak up about something you and Grammy are always in the back of my head like you guys are the reasons why I

28:52 Do those things?

28:54 Thank you. I want you to talk about equal play. But first I want to

29:02 Acknowledge recognize and let you know that I hear you. I see you and I to an extent can understand the pressure of why you might be scared of what you said you're scared. So why you're scared of cortical not living up to me or my mom. I share that same sentiment and

29:29 I

29:32 I want you to know that you don't have to live up to my mom's Legacy. You don't have to live up to my legacy. You're your own person and you're not me. You're not my mom. You are Emily Theresa Gillespie. You are your own person and you're going to grow into an amazing woman and you don't have to be like me or Grammy to be an amazing woman. You're already.

30:05 So strong and so brave and so creatus.

30:10 I

30:12 Just want you to know that you can stand in your own strength.

30:19 But you do have the blood, you know this lineage of chingona women. I mean my mom and her mom, I don't think I've ever told you like my nana there was you know some complexities to a lot of things with my nana, but on our way here I was thinking she in the 80s or the 90s on his way was the 80s cuz I was really young opened up a bar in Delano and I like a woman who didn't speak English.

30:58 A woman, you know in the 1980s opening up her own bar. That's pretty badass.

31:07 That was you know, you know people were talking and probably gossiping like, oh my gosh, I bar a woman has a bar and she did that.

31:18 So, you know that must have taken a lot of bravery and a lot of courage and then looking at my mom and then looking at the things that I've done and your stuff with equal play and all of your tree planting and all of the advocacy that you've done with valley fever and air quality.

31:39 You in your own right and in your own standing are?

31:47 Strong and courageous and brave and you don't need to live up to Miley to see her to my mom's Legacy.

31:54 Just know that you are more than enough on your own.

31:59 Thank you for saying that.

32:02 But I want you to talk about you Google Play. OK Google play was a group is is Eagle play is a group of a group of young ladies in high school mostly girls, but you had boy support. Yes. We had boy supporting us, but most of all of the speakers most of the speakers were girls. I

32:32 Okay. Yeah, I organized a group of girls who believed that the transfer rule for transfer students who thought the road was wrong. I got them together and we decided to go to the board meeting make up some talking points. Make up arguments get facts from what website was it the Kern High School District and fax, whatever you want to call it and we would go to the board meetings every Tuesday and

33:18 Me and my friend Danny we would miss our volleyball games are most of our volleyball games, but you couldn't play in that we couldn't play in your bench the whole game because of his Yeah. So basically the role you had to sit out all year of sports is what you're doing right now. Yes, I am currently still sitting out but we couldn't play any game or tournament if you were a transfer student and we thought it was stupid. It was the stupid Rule and so we decided to say something about it and we had good talking points. We were heard they decided to

34:07 Keep the role in the end. They decided to keep the role. We were we were devastated. I remember just crying because I wanted to play so bad and remember Danny was crying. The last board meeting was just a total meltdown. I had my dad come in and say something I had my old volleyball coach cambrie scum say something to the board. Everyone was fired up. Everyone was so mad. They were angry at the board because there's nobody agreed with the role and there are so many other people that didn't agree with the role, but they didn't say anything because they didn't want to be exposed kind of yeah, and even if there were transfer students some kids they would still play but they're doing sports right now.

35:04 Still playing but

35:09 Yeah, I did. A lot of most of the motivation came from you being my mother and my grandma being Teresa and

35:23 Equal play was

35:27 My motivation was my motivation to do.

35:37 Yeah, you've done so much in your 15 years of life. You've done a lot and you have a lot to be proud of.

35:47 I am very proud of you. I would you know, I always introduce myself is still do I'm Teresa tiendas daughter very proud of being her daughter and I'm very proud of being your mom you.

36:07 You've done so much in your short life. And like you said there are pressure is because you're my only daughter, but I know that you speak up when you need to just like my mom not that you have to be like my mom when I stressed that again, but you're

36:33 So strong and I just

36:36 Evan all of what a compassionate human being you are

36:45 Yeah, thank you for saying that again. It really means a lot of specially coming from you as a mother.

37:03 I love you.

37:05 I love you.

37:09 She's with us right now. So we're so

37:17 She always shows up.

37:19 I'm like important things especially important thing. I'm waiting her scarf.

37:30 Or that necklace that your dad had made for me. Yeah, I was going to say that I wear her wedding ring. Yeah, I always think you were that yeah.

37:43 Yeah, we need to keep talking about our loved ones that have transitioned and

37:51 Harry their memory and keep their memory alive

37:56 Specially hers.