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SWOP's 40th Anniversary Podcast Episode 6 Transcript

Marisol (00:28):

Hey SWOP. These does it's Marisol again, the CFO of SWOP sending you awesome light and good energy from my closet. As I hide from my family and attempt to record this podcast introduction, and I know things are crazy right now. And even though our world and our future continue to remain uncertain, there are things that we as SWOPistas does are certain about Black Lives Matter. Youth are the solution. Elders hold the wisdom and Agua es Vida. As our world transforms, we seek out the strength and the resilience of our community because we've been dreaming of a new world for decades, and we welcome it. The Roibal family has been dreaming with SWOP for all four decades of our existence. So today we would like to offer you a family sized edition of SWOP's 40th Anniversary Podcast, featuring Roberto and his daughters, Rosina, Lolita and Lucía Roibal. This family who is near and dear to my heart has played an active role in all four decades of SWOP. Their stories will go great with a cafecito and a biscochito, and a little break from whatever labor you are doing. All right, then get comfy. Cause it's time for some Roibal family SWOP stories.

Roberto (01:47):

Hello, everyone out there listening to SWOP newest podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in I'm Roberto Roibal. I was born in (something) Santa Fe Nuevo México and I've been in Burque for the last 45 years here in the South Valley. I've been with the Southwest Organizing Project from the very beginning of 1980 when we were founded. This year, we are celebrating our 40th anniversary and we're having all kinds of online events or keep your ears and eyes open on social media. I've been on the SWOP staff for 29 years now, and I have three wonderful daughters and I'm so happy that they've joined us for this podcast. And now I'll hand it over to Rosina.

Rosina (02:24):

Hello. Um, yay SWOP. And what an honor to be a part of this podcast and also to be part of the 40th anniversary. SWOP is just a little bit younger than me, and this is quite a treat to give thanks to SWOP for making who I am today. I'm also originally from Albuquerque from the South Valley, Roberto, my dad, I, uh, currently live in Oakland, California. Um, I went to college in new Orleans for my music education degree and came back to Albuquerque where I taught orchestra in the South Valley for seven years, I got my master's degree in music performance at UNM during that time. And then I moved to Oakland following my nephew that's Lolita's oldest son, about 10 years ago. And I worked for the Bay area, environmental health collaborative. I attended the expressive arts therapy masters program at the California Institute of integral studies in San Francisco. And I now work as a bilingual therapist at an agency called Lincoln. Families in Oakland, in the multidimensional family therapy program, where I work with adolescents who are on probation. And I do a work like tell me therapy with their families. I'm going to go ahead and pass it on to Lolita.

Lolita (03:44):

um, hi, I'm Lolita. And first I did want to congratulate SWOP on the anniversary. I know it's hard to be able to celebrate in this time, um, and especially want to congratulate all of the community members (SOMETHING IN SPANISH) because I feel like the community members of all the different places that have really, you know, fought all this time just to, to keep, you know, New Mexico, how it in the traditional ways, you know, and me and SWOP are about the same age. So, um, also from the (SOMETHING IN SPANISH) I lived in very close vicinity to Rosina and my dad and my sister, and for the earlier part of my life, I was a SWOP member, especially with the youth group. And later I was a organizer with SWOP After that, I moved to Berkeley and where I've studied Chinese medicine curanderismo and home birth support. But at the same time, I've also continued doing electoral organizing. Um, now with Bay Rising, which is an electoral coalition in the Bay area. And I definitely have always felt very grateful for all of the experience and kind of informative role that SWOP played in my youth. And you know what I'm doing today. I'm a(SOMETHING IN SPANISH?) and I have three muchachitos, little kids, as well as my sweetheart who helps lead the Chinese Progressive Association. I'm going to go ahead and pass it on to Lucía.

Lucía (05:06):

Thank you, Lolita. I am Lucía . Hi everyone. And a big congrats to SWOP on 40 years. That's truly amazing. And also thank you so much for inviting us to this podcast. So like everyone else in my family, I'm from the South Valley in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I went to college in New York city and after college worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council for a couple of years after that, I went to law school in the Bay area, which is where I live now. And I currently work in San Francisco. I'm an attorney at Dropbox and I'm a lifelong member of SWOP And I was a youth intern in the early two thousands when I was in high school. That's it for me.

New Speaker (05:48):

The Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco and congratulates the Southwest Organizing Project on its 40th on it's 40th anniversary. Thank you for standing up for the rights and dignity of working people on the broad movement solidarity, you have practice with that lives throughout the world. We are grateful for you for your leadership. We celebrate the bonds of hope, struggle, and vision for justice that bring us together. Que Viva SWOP!

Lucía (06:29):

So now let's move on to the second portion of this, the long answers. And so I'm going to start with my dad. And so dad, did you find swap, or did SWOP find you?

Roberto (06:47):

I found SWOP literally with other community organizers here in Albuquerque on occupied Tiwa land. I remember talking with some of the other founders during 1979, who I had been working with for the previous five or seven years in different organizations and struggles. And I remember in 1979, I was talking with Richard Moore, one of the founders, and he'd been traveling around the country and meeting other organizations. And he said that the community need is a good community based organization. And he threw out the name Southwest, Organizing Project. So that's the first I've ever heard that name. There were other organizing projects around the country and he wanted to call it Southwest because we had big visions of the Southwest. Also remember that when we went to Cuba in 1979 with the Venceremos Brigade, we called a meeting with other community organizers in the Southwest that were there. And also we invited the Cubans in this meeting and we talked about building an organization that would grow and involve other people in the Southwest. And how about you Rosina?

Rosina (07:46):

I'll SWOP found me because I was raised in SWOP because my dad had been working with SWOP, um, ever since I was a baby. And so I would attend, um, a lot of the SWOP functions and meetings with the other, like kids and youth of SWOP and we would do really cool things together. And then when I got older, I started getting involved in actual organizing. I think Lolita is going to talk later a little bit about this, but about our school called Pajarito Elementary School. I started getting involved in kind of like voter education, doing door to door work, um, trying to get a school built for us. And then I also, um, formed the SWOP youth group. Then I got into an internship at SWOP at the age of 14, and then I got elected to the board. And then I was part of SWOP's Jóvenes Unidos group, which was kind of like, um, a music performance group. Also during the summers, when I came home from college, I interned at SWOP and later I was hired as the arts and culture organizer. And through that, I formed a guitar class and kind of like a youth band, um, what we did like kind of socially conscious songs. And then I had a really cool experience working with another local organization called Little Globe where I was inspired to pursue a further training in arts and social justice. How about you Lolita?

Lolita (09:24):

At first SWOP found me, um, which is that when my dad was driving my mom to a birth center in Albuquerque to birth me, he had to stop on the way to deliver flyers to Jean and Richard. And that was in 1980 when SWOP was founded. So, um, you know, I got to ride in the car next to some flyers back home. (Laughs) Um, and then, so I took a break in middle school. I had to rebel against all of the kind of slave labor that the, they would put us through, at SWOP which Lucía is going to talk about, I think, but I was later wooed back by the youth band that Rosina was talking about, which have been, you know, was there snag their hook to bring me into youth organizing campaigns. And so with SWOP , I was sent all over the world and the country, you know, be it to SNEEJ gatherings, fighting Intel, fighting the road through the petroglyphs and nuclear waste, really a lot of good memories. And so in college, I did some time as a SWOP youth intern as well, like in the summers. And I worked as an organizer for SWOP after I graduated. So a lot of good memories and I'm glad that SWOP found me and I'm glad that my dad found SWOP. So how about you Lucía?

Lucía (10:43):

So like everyone else, my other sisters SWOP found me. Um, I can't really remember the first time I went to SWOP because I was only a baby. My dad told me that he used to take me to SWOP meetings before I was one year old. So, um, and then from that on, we were always at SWOP like all of my memories. I just remember being there all of the time. And a lot of the time we would be doing things downstairs. It used to be a really dark room. It's now nice and light. The back of the day is super dark and we'd be in the basement, folding flyers, we would do phone banking. And then we did a lot of other fun things. Like we painted. We helped paint the murals that you see outside. We would go to protests and we'd go to the SWOP meetings. And like my two sisters, I also was part of the singing group, Jóvenes Unidos. And the list really goes on. And then finally, when I was in high school, I did an internship there during the summer, which was really great. All right. So now we're going to switch gears, dad, what's the craziest SWOP story you're willing to share?

Roberto (11:48):

That's a tough one because there's so many of them like when we occupied the Albuquerque public schools, police office. But I think what I want to mention is when we first bought our building, that's on 10th street. We bought that in 1988, in 1990, the basement used to have this really great classic bar. You know, the old time bars with a mirror, shag carpets, a zebra wallpaper, all kinds of cool stuff like that. And we used to throw these huge parties downstairs in the basement before we turn it into office space and we would get like a hundred people in this bar. And it was only like 15 feet by 20 feet. We were shoulder to shoulder and just having a good old time just partying. And Rosina how about you?

Rosina (12:30):

That sounds like a lot of fun dad, the craziest, um, yeah, the crazy story that I can share on a podcast is, um, the, uh, SNEEJ gathering in San Francisco. So for those of you don't know, SNEEJ, is a Southwest network for environmental and economic justice, which SWOP was a part of, and I was on their coordinating council as the youth representative. And, um, yeah, one of the really coolest memories, um, uh, in my, uh, childhood, especially as a youth was getting to go to one of the gatherings in San Francisco and staying in the C2 mansion and meeting all these other organizers from San Francisco, including the Chinese progressive association and, um, at their called CPA. And they took us, um, around, uh, San Francisco showing us, you know, sweat shops and, and also just like really cool places and took us to good places to eat and the beach. And then we actually had a protest. So that was really cool. Um, we, uh, went and protested Jesse McClintock because of the unfair working conditions and sweat shops. And I remember one of the organizers youth organizers we were with, he put on a dress that was, I think, one of Jesse McClintock dresses. And it was just a really vibrant, fun protest. And that experience being in San Francisco really inspired me to want to live in San Francisco someday or in the Bay area, um, which I now do, which is really cool. And I also think it's kind of cool and funny that Lolita married, um, a director she's married to a director of CPA, Chinese progressive association, who I've known since I was, you know, I've known the organization since I was a kid. Um, how about you Lolita? What's the craziest SWOP story you're willing to tell?

Lolita (14:24):

There was definitely lots of crazy stuff we've seen hanging around the likes of Jean and Eric, Richard and Sophia, the NAVA folks who were, you know, monument coalition protection formerly like Lori and Sonny Weahkee. I think some of the craziest things were just some of the confrontations that we would have with elected officials, authorities and other, you know, just anti-raza people. So one example is when Linda Chavez was actually going from state to state suing each state to get rid of bilingual education, you know, of course Jean wouldn't have it. We were up at arms immediately. And I remember being really young and just storming the city council in Albuquerque, um, when she was about to make a speech and all of us standing holding signs and each person held a letter and the signs read (SOMETHING IN SPANISH), which is, you know, so things like that where we always had lots of exciting times. And then my other favorite is just having, had SWOP make me the star of our campaign to fight for a new Pajarito elementary school. When I was in fourth grade, um, when our drinking water was found to be contaminated with fecal material. Um, and you know, it was just a lot of like speeches in front of the school board, getting petitions signed with all the students at my school door to door voter outreach. And at the time I was actually really very conscious and aware of it, even though I was very young. And I think that just says a lot about how dedicated the elders of SWOP were in like developing youth and just making sure that we were always a part of everything, always involving arts and culture and having a whole separate program for the youth whilst doing all these other campaigns. So how about you Lucía?

Lucía (16:14):

So for me, it was when I was a summer youth intern in high school. And so Karlos Schmieder and I went and interviewed the Albuquerque chief of police and our intent was seeing if he would admit to using racial profiling. And so the crazy part is that he readily admitted to using racial profiling and was almost proud of the fact he was like, Oh yeah. Oh yeah, we definitely do that. And for me, I was just really shocked at that time. And we knew that the police were doing this, but I didn't think that they would actually. And so we ended up writing an article about it, that's in one of the Voices Unidas issues. And so that's my story.

New Speaker (17:04):

The Chinese progressive association in San Francisco came to know the Southwest organizing project. As we were preparing to attend the first national people of color environmental leadership summit from SWOP. Our members learned a lot about the intersection of environmental racism and U S militarism SWOP's deep roots, and the 500 years of Chicano history also left lasting impressions and exposed to new understandings of the struggle for justice and liberation. The Chinese progressive association also probably worked in solidarity with SWOP to support workers during the Levi's Hunger strike. We are grateful to you for your leadership and celebrate the bonds of hope, struggle, and vision for justice that bring us together. Que Viva SWOP!

Lucía (18:06):

Alright, so the second segment is called all fast. I will be asking each other three questions and we have five seconds or less to answer it. So dad, I'm going to start with you if you're ready. What is your favorite place where SWOP has taken?

Roberto (18:23):

Definitely CUBA. I went to feel to represent SWOP and international development conference and to the youth forum on anti imperialism with Rosina. My second favorite was at Estelí Nicaragua SWOP had adopted a school there, the Rebecca Guillen school. And Rosina how about you?

Rosina (18:38):

Well, SWOP sent me to Cuba with a small group, including you dad for the 14th world youth forum on anti imperialism. In 1997, I got to see Fidel Castro. I got to sing a song from Jóvenes Unidos on national TV. And I was also there just after Che Guevara remains were returned to Cuba. And it was amazing to see all of the celebrations around that as well.

Roberto (19:06):

Okay. Lolita, how about you?

Lolita (19:09):

Um, I would say my, my favorite place where SWOP has taken me was when I led a youth delegation, a national youth delegation to Chiapas, Mexico. Um, and on that trip, we got to kick it with Zapatistas . Um, and we actually ran into Winona LaDuke who is bringing her own youth contingent down. So we got to, um, make a meal for them and just sit there and chat it out. And later I actually ran into her when we had like our final, big, last protest, um, when they did pass the road to the petroglyphs and she spoke again and I got to talk to her. And so that was really cool. Uh, how about you Lucía?

Lucía (19:48):

So when I was a teenager, Lolita, you led us on a youth delegation to meet with environmental justice and youth organizations in LA, California. Uh, that was a really great trip. And I learned so much about the environmental justice issues in California and that's it for me. So dad, what is your dream for SWOP?

Roberto (20:09):

My dream is that we continue to grow for another 40 years and beyond, and that we become a stronger statewide organization. We've always had that vision of being a statewide organization and having offices all over the state. Lolita. What's a good lesson you've learned from SWOP?

Lolita (20:27):

Well, Eli Lee, who is one of the founders of the center for civic policy was actually the first person who taught me how to do door knocking when I was like 14 years old. And I will never forget how he said a community organizer always carries a pencil with them. So Lucía what is a song that reminds you of SWOP?

Lucía (20:46):

So for me, it's one of our Jóvenes Unidos songs, it's the Chile Song! One, two, three.

New Speaker (21:00):

(All Try to sing at the same time) stops up. Okay. Are you guys ready on the count of three, one, two, three (All try to sing at the same time, but the internet makes it delayed) [inaudible] who's leading. Are we following Lolita? Cause she's going faster. Follow me. (music starts, Chile Song sung by kids starts)

Lucía (21:57):

That's going to be a wrap for this episode of the podcast.

New Speaker (22:01):

SWOP's 40th anniversary podcast is produced by Monica Braine and Marisol Archuleta. Thanks to Antonio Maestas for the original music, Mikyle Gray for the logo design, our editors, Perla Garcia, Kevin Otero, and to the sponsors for this episode, the Chinese progressive association and the biggest shoutout goes out to all this Swopistas out there fighting for justice. Hasta La Victoria Siempre

Roberto (22:27):

Celebrate her 40th birthday with us by becoming a monthly sustainer to SWOP. $10 a month, means $120 a year. Your money won't go to fund some fancy meeting with fancy people in a fancy restaurant, but it will go to the women community doing invisible labor that makes our communities thrive. Visit our website, SWOP.net and click on the donate button.

New Speaker (22:51):

Thanks for listening everyone. See you soon. Thanks for listening everyone.

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