Oral History; Nicholas Blue
Oral History Item Type Metadata
2400 Chew St
Allentown, PA 18104
Transcription of Nick Blue Interview
Becca: This is Becca MacKillop and I am conducting the third oral history for the archive! With the topic of intersectionality, I’m here with Nick Blue, who is a sophomore, who was present at the Women’s March in Washington D.C. Say “hi” Nick!
Nick: Hi guys.
Becca: Awesome, so thank you for being here. Um, he’s a double major in history and secondary ed, he’s from Greenwich, Connecticut, and I’m gonna let him talk about himself. So Nick, can you talk about where you’re from . . . and your family . . . do you have any siblings?
Nick: I’m from Greenwich, Connecticut. I live with my two parents and my eighteen year old sister who’s also a freshman . . . who’s a freshman in college . . . is that all you need to know?
Becca: Yeah! That’s great! Um, so you’re from Greenwich, can you talk a little bit um, to the extent that it's relevant and you’re comfortable, about what the political climate was like in your area growing up . . . um, sentiment regarding politics . . . um, current events, that kind of thing.
Nick: It’s interesting because many people think of Greenwhich as a highly conservative area with individuals who are protective of their money because they’re um . . . it’s a predominantly wealthy area and they think that it’s . . .you know just people trying to stuff their money under the mattresses and not want to give taxes and not give up their taxes but it’s actually kind of the opposite there. A lot of people are um . . . you know it’s a very wealthy area, I would kind of describe it as socially liberal, fiscally conservative, that’s kind of their mind-set. Because, there’s actually a lot of residents who are very involved in um, social justice and advocacy issues pertaining to a lot of kind of the relevant ideologies behind the Democratic party. So um, a lot of people were supportive of Obama and Hillary and donated a lot of money to their campaigns. But um, it’s a predominantly . . . it’s, it’s kind of conflicting in some ways because while there are people who are socially liberal and try to care about issues like, in the realm of social justice, a lot of people are also, at the same time still like, reluctant to kind of like, give up their taxes. And you know, give up their . . . you know, just kind of have to . . . the ability to kind of want to give up more money to benefit society.
Becca: So would you say that socially it’s kind of similar to what the climate is at Muhlenberg? Or different?
Nick: Um, it’s hard for me to say just because you know, Greenwhich is very different and I think we’re all college students. We also, you know, we also care about . . . um, we care kind of the opposite, we also care about not . . . you know, no one wants to be taxed more so like when I say fiscally conservative it means that um . . . you know we’re kind of all fiscally conservative with taxes because we all don’t, we all don’t want to have to pay more than we feel like we should.
Becca: Mm Hmm
Nick: You know my um, someone once told me that when Walter Mundale was running for president in 1980 against Ronald Reagan he says, “I will raise taxes for the rich and Ronald Reagan will too, he’s just not admitting it.” And of course, once he said he would raise taxes he . . . you know, he immediately got thrown out of the primaries so . . . I think that Muhlenberg’s a lot different because we really do care a lot about . . . we’re very much a liberal climate in all aspects. I think that where I come from it’s liberal in some regards, it’s much much much more moderate, I think. I just have a feeling that a lot of people say they’re liberal in some ways where I come from, but in reality they’re not so much as they say if they actually come encounter with like . . . if someone says for instance, “oh you know, I’m for trans. I’m for trans rights” then they’ve actually never met a trans person before and don’t know what they’re going through, they don’t know their struggles. I think that at Muhlenberg we’re a much more very open-minded campus and it’s also because like, we go to school with these people, we have experience, we do work for the community and so we know sort of what their struggles are like. You know, there’s no way to actually know until you’re, you know, in their shoes. But I think that there’s also the mindset that we’re all so much more . . . much more liberal in most aspects so I think that’s how I would describe it.
Becca: That’s great. I think that’s very fair, very thorough so, um . . . so my next question is . . . before attending the Women’s March on Washington, had you ever been involved in a protest or demonstration before?
Nick: This was actually my first time being involved in a protest or demonstration, I had never . . . actually I didn’t really think about going until it gained a lot of momentum when President Trump got elected into office and . . . I thought that when the college Democrats really emphasized um, I think our former president, Meghan LaFayette really, really wanted people to go, and I got really involved that semester so I chose to go. And, it was definitely a great first experience there being involved in any kind of demonstration.
Becca: Yeah, I think it was a first um demonstration for a lot of people. I’ve heard that from previous interviewees, and friends. Um, can you talk a little bit about your experience in College Democrats, I know you’re not so much involved this semester but like, what prompted you to get involved? What was it like?
Nick: I knew that I was always left-leaning and more so than most people that I grew up with in my town and um, and I kind of in high school developed a very kind of . . . Democratic left-leaning ideology and really felt like I wanted to learn more as well as really know the stuff that was going on. And it’s also a chance with these clubs what’s so great, especially in college, is when you join these kinds of clubs that you're interested in and you always meet like-minded people, so I always thought of it as an incredible opportunity to actually meet people as well. And I thought it was a really good experience that semester, I think one of the local representatives who went to school here, it was Schlossberg, he came here and he had a conversation. We kind of learned about issues pertaining to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We saw videos, we talked about why it’s relevant, and it really definitely opened up horizons a little bit. That’s how I got involved, it’s just . . . I think a lot has been on my plate this year so I havn’t been . . . I actually haven't been to any of their meetings but, that’s maybe a goal for next semester, we’ll see.
Becca: Cool, that’s awesome. How did you hear about . . . so you already answered this a little bit but um, the next question is how did you hear about the Women’s March, but I guess what I’m wondering moreso is how did you ultimately make the decision to go?
Nick: Um, I think that I made the decision to go because I just felt that we were all not expecting the outcome of the election to be what it was and yes, the march did stem from the, you know, the electoral college results of our incumbent president but however I do feel that . . . I really wanted to go to support . . . to support not just the cause of kind of women in politics and that’s kind of the rhetoric that Trump had, but also to support the women in my life. And I feel like the march itself, once I did go, it was very intersectional. It wasn’t just about women, it was about you know, because as this kind of rage in people was building up about Trump becoming president, there was this underlying rage about . . . it’s not just that he’s misogynistic, he’s also . . . you know, he can be racist and he can be this, you know and he can make fun of people with different ethnicities and backgrounds so it kind of became this whole hodgepodge of different issues pertaining to people being afraid of Trump as president so just, it wasn’t just the part about showing that I, you know, cared about the women in my life. And I was kind of, you know terrified about what would happen under his presidency but also just the fact that I feel like I could learn more about, and support the other um, the other people that people were afraid he would not support under his belt. And I also think it kind of shows that you know, I do come from a very um . . . I do come from . . . I will say I guess that phrase “check your privilege” really does apply to me. I’m a white, anglo-saxon, protestant, upper-middle class man from Greenwhich, CT. That probably says a lot but I just wanted to go and show that even though I am, kind of, all the elements of American privilege, and that I probably would be fine under the conditions that Trump set for his presidency, I wanted to show that even though this is the case, it’s like I care and I’m going to D.C. at four in the morning to show that I care.
Becca: That’s awesome. Um, yeah I think it definitely was like a catch-all for all marginalized peoples, women or not women. Um, okay so what is your most salient memory about the march like what sticks out in your mind?
Nick: I didn’t realize how many people would be there to be honest with you. I mean, I just remember waiting in line for two and a half to three hours just to get on the metro to go to the Women’s March. So that was a very salient memory. Another one was kind of just walking out of the metro station. I guess, I don’t know if it's like center city D.C. but they called it just the middle where everyone was getting off and I just, all I saw was pink. Just pink things on people’s heads and pink apparel and you know, Planned Parenthood shirts. And I just remember it was really hard to get around the city.
Becca: Yeah, definitely. That’s definitely a memory that a lot of the people I’ve interviewed share is just the sheer number of people. And the pink! I mean, did you wear a . . . were you wearing pink? Were you wearing a pussy hat?
Nick: No, I did not have one made for me unfortunately but um . . .
Becca: Or did you know that there were going to be so many pussy hats there?
Nick: I knew that it was gaining momentum around November, December. You know, people were getting pussy hats for Christmas, or for Hanukkah presents or just around the holiday times right before this march was happening or the president was getting elected into office. But I just remember I didn’t wear anything pink because I honestly just don’t have anything that I own, I didn’t think to get it but it really shocked me how many people were in pink.
Becca: Yeah. (chuckles) Quite a few. (Laughs) More than a few. Was there anything that you were expecting to see or experience at the march that didn’t meet your expectations? . . . I know that’s a broad question.
Nick: One of the most, one of the most distinct memories that I have of this march was that it took forever to get started. I just remember waiting on the street next to the national mall with like, where all of the Smithsonian Museums are. And we were waiting because there was this rally. And, I think that all the mothers of the . . . the, the um, African American boys that were killed um, in the past five years were all there. You know, the whole group of them. I don’t know if there’s like . . . there may be a name for them. They were all there, they had the song “Say Their Name” or something. They would be like, you know, blank and blank say their name and kind of be in remembrance of that. They had a, I think Alicia Keys was there. A lot of singers and demonstrators, just bands you know, we were really getting fired up but . . . you know, they were telling us by like one thirty the march would start. And then it was two o clock, two thirty, three, and I think they finally started at three thirty so the pep rally was two hours overdue and I was just standing there, you know, crowded in the middle of people and we couldn’t use the bathrooms, we couldn’t move past people. There were people, the were the elderly, there were people in wheelchairs, there were young children, and people after like, thirty minutes overdue people were were chanting “START THE MARCH. START THE MARCH.” (bangs on table for emphasis) We were all getting into it because we were so pissed off about it! Because we just wanted to . . . WE CAME TO MARCH! We didn’t came to hear . . . we wanted to hear some of the demonstration but we didn’t want to hear an extra two hours. And I, after that we were like “yeah, yeah, we get the point, we’re riled up, can we go now.
Becca: Mm Hmm
Nick: So that was just kind of the most frustrating aspect of the march, by far.
Becca: So once you started marching, do you remember the uh, the path you took? Or how long you were marching? If it, I mean and it was so congested.
Nick: Um, I just remember finally leaving and people were kind of dispersing from the rally. All the streets were closed, obviously, but I just remember cutting past, like cutting through the national mall. You know, there were a stream of people coming by. Um, then we walked, I just remember us walking, cutting like, through the mall. We were able to kind of see the Lincoln Memorial on my left and the capitol building on my right. And then we cut through and we got to um, another Smithsonian Museum across the mall, and we cut in through a street and all I remember . . . I definitely remember passing, I think Trump had one of his new hotels there that was just built and everyone was booing it and flipping off the building. And, I think we maybe walked around a little more, we maybe made a loop and then like, we realized we had to go back to um, some of the, one of the Maryland suburbs where the coach busses were waiting to take us back to school, we had to meet a deadline. And I remember that we were really only marching for about 45 minutes, we were kind of getting lost, we were getting frustrated, we were getting agitated with each other about where we were going to go, or when we’d need to go and I was trying to look at my phone, at subway maps, but the . . . of course everyone was using their phones so it was very slow on the cellular data. So, I just remember marching around kind of the main downtown area of the city for maybe about 45 minutes to an hour.
Becca: Um, do you think that was intentional? Like, all of that congestion? Or do you think the plan was that there was gonna be a straight path to march on and a . . . a consistency of pace. Or do you think it was inevitable that it would be so congested.
Nick: No I think it was absolutely inevitable to be congested because first off, they were not expecting this many people to come and I . . . you know, it’s not like when they . . . you know, it’s not like the march in Washington in 1963 when it’s shown . . . you know, there were a lot of people for that but I think there were probably much less than that and you know, they show pictures of people and an organized route with you know, MLK in the front leading the pack but I just think there were just so many people. And there were people who were elderly and young children who were running around, and people in wheelchairs. So, I think that it was kind of inevitable at that point with all those factors that there was really not going to be that way to go and I think another factor too is that they’d sectioned off the road for probably three hours, maybe like one to four, thinking the march would start at one. But the pep rally didn’t end like, until 3:30 and so we only had an hour to kind of, you know, march. But I think . . . I think that it was definitely just not going to happen to have a straight way to go. We, also when I got there, no one really told us where to march to or our designated routes but with the entire area around the mall closed off, I think it was just kind of we were gonna go where we were gonna go! And, people were gonna film us and that would have gotten the word across for those who did not get to attend.
Becca: Yeah. You bring up so many good points . . . I don’t even know what to probe you on next . . . I guess . . . um, I guess I’ll ask you what you did to prepare for the march so . . . I know you didn’t stick to the itinerary but what was like, the goal itinerary? Did you go with Muhlenberg?
Nick: I did go with Muhlenberg. I mean to prepare I just remember coming back with some friends that evening, I kind of left them around 9:30 in the evening and because I did remember that we had to be in the CA to get going at about 3:30 or 3:45 the next morning. I just remember knowing that I would get up at about 3:00 you know, take a shower, get what I needed to together. But, the night before I kind of . . . well actually right before I went back I went to GQ, got like a coffee and like, a granola bar for breakfast. And then I kind of went back to my room and laid out the clothes I was gonna wear. You know I knew it was going to be cold, I knew it was going to be outside. I knew I was going to have a lot of time on the coach bus so I brought a book, I brought headphones, maybe a word search. So kind of, that’s what I did to really prepare and then because I knew it’d be walking around in the city and I didn’t want to carry stuff, I kind of just left my bag in the bus, which they told us we could do.
Becca: That’s convenient. Um, did you see a lot of clear backpacks?
Nick: Clear backpacks?
Becca: Yeah, one of the ACLU regulations was clear backpacks. But, you might not have seen them.
Nick: You mean like things you can see through?
Becca: Mm Hmm
Nick: Hmm . . . I don’t really remember that. Um, I mean I think there was some mention of like you have to . . . your items have to be transparent but I . . . I don’t remember seeing backpacks. I think, for instance, people didn’t really want to bring them in the city because they would be tough to carry around all day. I do remember obviously the women had their, some sort of a purse on them just because, you know they could do that.
Becca: Yeah, um . . .Yeah, it’s a long day. Lot of supplies, but at the same time you don’t really want to carry them. Um, cool. So we talked a lot about preparation um . . .
Nick: Actually no wait I have, I remember something about um clear bags. Yeah, no cause I remember I had to like leave my gym bag on the bus now, I’m remembering I think I had to carry around, I carried around a CVS plastic bag all day. I do remember that now. Brings back some memories.
Becca: What was in there?
Nick: Um, it was like my wallet, which was probably not the best place for it but I just decided yeah and I had some . . . the school was nice enough and I think Sodexo really good job of making sure that everybody had a bagged lunch and some snacks so I kind of took some snacks from the lunch bag and put them in with me to kind of carry around. But yeah, now that you say that I do remember doing like, plastic bags.
Becca: That’s such a small detail. So interesting. Um, so I guess we’ll switch gears a little bit and talk about march security which has to do with organization as well but moreso organization on the part of the people who put the march together, as opposed to the organization of the participants. What do you remember seeing about um, or what do you remember about police presence at the march?
Nick: I mean I remember in the huge crowds of people, um I just remember obviously there was security right near the stage of the pep rally, that’s going to be expected at any public event. I just remember walking to the march with like, the crowds of people. There was like, maybe I just remember like a pre-march before the pep rally to kind of like um, they were kind of giving directions, making sure people weren’t going in like blocked roads, making sure no cars were obviously going by because they can’t because all the roads were sectioned off that day and rightfully so. Um, I don’t, I don’t really remember having a bad altercation with a police officer there I didn’t, I think they were just there to try and maintain order with that many people and that crowded of a space. But yeah, I don’t really have any memories of law enforcement agents at the march.
Becca: Did you see any officers with pussy hats on?
Nick: I remember seeing one or two but at the most I saw no, I don’t remember seeing that many. But, a good amount for those who were there serving the community.
Becca: Cool, um, did you . . . so even law enforcement and security aside did you see any kind of physical altercation at the march?
Nick: . . . No . . . the only thing I saw was I think there were a couple guys my age who like, climbed up on something they weren’t supposed to. Maybe I just remember them like, climbing up on a building. I don’t remember them really getting apprehended, I just remember that memory in my head but . . . you know, I think law enforcement officials were just trying to make sure that people were kind of relatively in order and not going into like, government buildings to use the restroom that was like a big concern because people were trying to get in desperately needing to relieve their bodily functions but they weren’t able to because you know, that’s one of the things that they emphasize, go before! Don’t like . . . it’s almost like they almost said don’t drink water because of how limited the access to the restrooms would be, especially with that vast amount of people that were there at the present. So, I think they were just there to make sure that was the case. I didn’t see any altercations with agencies. Although, I do remember a sole police officer obviously standing in front of the Trump hotel when I walked past (laughs). That was to be expected.
Becca: Mm Hmm. Um . . . yeah. So it sounds like all of the kind of, rowdiness at the march was in an effort of like, self-preservation or documentation and not so much malicious or violent. Um, and that was my experience too. Um, so you mentioned that you had never been to a demonstration or rather, a protest, before . . . had you ever been to something like Gay Pride? Or any . . . something . . .not a protest necessarily but maybe a demonstration or a celebration like that?
Nick: Actually, I had not been to any of those kind of, celebrations before. I mean, if you’re talking like the kind when um, the Supreme Court ruled you know that gay marriage was the law of the land, I didn’t even go to like those kind of celebrations when a law gets passed or . . . no, so this was really my first experience with um, protesting, demonstrations, celebrations of politics. Anything like that, I had never really had experience with anything before.
Becca: Gotcha, do you think you’re gonna go to more now that you’ve dipped your toes in? Or do you think that something mmm, with this specific tone won’t necessarily be repeated?
Nick: Well I absolutely do hope that I’ll go to one of these demonstrations again I think. And I think college is the perfect time to go because, ot only are you surrounded with people who care about the issues that you do but there’s so many of these people and it's the experience of going with . . . you know, these individuals. You know, I didn’t really know the person I went-the people I went with well at all. I just happened to know one from the organization that I was in that semester so I kind of just wanted to . . . you know, it was the experience of going with those people and I think that um, that’s really . .. you know, I think that’s really opened my eyes to kind of movements and demonstrations and I think that I’m excited to go to more as they arise, you know especially with our heightened political climate.
Becca: Yeah. This was obviously just the beginning, this was on day one but, surely there will be more opportunity over the next now three years. Um, that’s great. I guess we’ll talk a little bit about signs since they were such an important part of this march. Did you bring a sign or carry a sign?
Nick: I did not, and it was also because I was told just to remember that you’ll be um, you’ll be carrying this around with you and they can’t be a certain height or . . . they can’t be as long as this but . . . I thought about just bringing something but honestly I just felt A.) I didn’t want to carry it around but B.) there would be so many signs, what difference would mine do unless it was really funny or witty or something like that, you know? The most common signs I saw were like, “Girls Just Want to Have Rights” or a very very vague one I saw, many I saw like that . . . personally I saw it as, “why would you bring it?” because it’s very vague and many people have it. It’s things like “Women’s Rights=Human Rights” or one I saw was like “We the People, She the People.” So just, there were those kind of signs that most people had and I kind of felt, I didn’t want to say that I felt bad for them but I just kind of felt like it didn’t really serve a purpose to carry around. If you were gonna really make something, a really relevant point you know, something that was gonna end up on you know, social media as something like “Look, look at this person at the Women’s March . . .” but I just personally felt like I wouldn’t have the stamina to carry it around all day so I neglected to do so.
Becca: Did you see any um, like any really fun and creative signs that captured your attention?
Nick: Definitely um . . . they’re not coming to me right now. I mean, obviously the really good ones had referred to kind of laws he was going to pass or just nice, kind of interesting puns. But, I did not um, really kind of remember exact quotes or posters.
Becca: So you think the more specific ones were more poignant? The ones that honed in on a specific facet of the presidency that the person took issue with?
Nick: Absolutely. I think that for anything to really stand out, it’s because it stands out because it’s different and it's unique and it's an interesting approach. It’s creative. That’s something, when you have a poster like “Women’s Rights are Human Rights,” A.) That’s very vague and a lot of people are going to say that because they’re like “oh maybe I should write something for the march, I’m going to do it the night before and not really think about it . . . But it’s also like, things like that . . . Hillary said that ten years ago in one of her speeches like, “women’s rights are human rights” so like, those kinds of things don’t stand out because they’ve already been said before. I think that things that haven't been heard before or points that like, when people see they’re like “Oh yeah! That! Like, I never thought about putting that together with this!” I think the original ideas really do stand out, and are worth holding a sign up for that long throughout the march.
Becca: Did you see any of the Buzzfeed articles or other articles after the march that archived some of the most funny and interesting signs? I saw a lot of listicles with fun signs, did you see any of those?
Nick: I did. I’m, I saw some on facebook I . . . went on Buzzfeed or Huffpost or most of the like, you know, trendy social media listing sites.
Becca: MM Hmm
Nick: And I did see a lot of it. I also knew my aunt from California was there but I didn’t really know until the last minute and obviously with everyone there there was no way that I was going to even bother to find her . . .
Becca: Mm Hmm
Nick: But she was there, she came all the way from California and stayed with friends . . . an employee of my old school was there too. It was nice seeing that . . . even though they might have stood ten feet behind me in the pep rally and I didn’t see them, it was nice to see that they were there, and nice to see that they were um, really supporting this crucial cause.
Becca: Yeah, um, I know it’s crazy, there were so many people there, I saw one person I knew. I knew of a bunch that were there. Um, the one I saw, I didn’t even know was going to be there. A lot of chance encounters like that. Um, earlier we talked about intersectionality, which um, is my specific focus for the archive um . . . so I guess, in terms of signage, in terms of speeches that were given, and just general considerations that were taken, what is your perspective on the intersecting identities at the march?
Nick: I think the women’s . . . like, calling it a Women’s March was a very literal term for it because I think that once again, this was the day after President Trump got elected and he . . . in my personal opinion . . . you know, kind of goes against . . . even if you are the pinnacle of American privilege, he is still going to find some way to get around to you. To find something to . . . for you to be afraid of. Even it’s not personally yourself, it’s people you know. So even, anyone you know and even yourself are all affected by this. And I think, just the culmination of rage people were having like, “Oh my God, this guy’s actually getting elected . . . on the 20th, it’s actually happening.” I think it was just kind of, all that rage people were having, you know, it was placed in the Women’s March. It wasn’t just about women any more. And honestly, it wasn’t about women but it never was about women. And I think this was planned after he got elected. It became about, “He’s against women’s rights, he might, you know, try to sign an executive order banning an abortion but this is also about the fact that latina rights and black rights and disabled rights and you know, rights for low-income families are all going to be possibly wiped out, destroyed, or eliminated in some facets under his presidency. And I think that, you know, while I could’ve gotten really frustrated that the pep rally took two hours, I think that it was people who were there really trying to demonstrate and vocalize how they felt about the new administration.
Becca: Yeah I’ve heard from a lot of women um, that the march was a really cathartic experience if not . . . not necessarily . . . I said “celebratory” earlier and I don’t think that’s the right word, I think cathartic is. Did you . . . so as a man going to the Women’s March, did you feel a sort of catharsis?
Nick: Can you explain what that means?
Becca: Yeah! Sorry! Uh, so catharsis being I guess, we’ll call it the feeling of just um, getting to express what you’re feeling or see what you’re feeling visualized in front of you. Um, and maybe have it be resolved in some way . . . or getting a chance to work through something you’re feeling . . .
Nick: (sighs) I think that . . . I hate to say this but I think that when you’re kind of in, you know you really don’t know how . . . um . . . you really don’t know how something’s going to affect you if it’s not going to affect you and I think that . . . I never really um, going into the march I never really thought . . . you know I thought I was kind of safe from the Trump presidency if you will. I think that I was, you know in a standing in society where . . . in every way that I thought that I was going to be saved from his policies in a way. So honestly like, I was hysterical when he won. And I was hysterical during his inauguration, which I didn’t watch for good reasons. But I think that when I got there . . . I definitely felt the emotions I started to kind of choke up a little when people were on stage you know, with their demonstrations, saying how awful the next four years are going to be. Um, but I definitely felt . . . yeah I didn’t get that . . . I didn’t feel that much catharsis but I definitely felt kind of the emotions of other people and it did get to me.
Beccal So more like empathy.
Nick: Absolutely. Like a true, hard-core, solid empathy but I just . . I just, I just felt like I couldn’t really relate to a lot of the people that were there. I mean, obviously there were . . . there were plenty of middle-class white men there, like who were supporting their wives and whatever. And I . . . I just kind of was there because I wanted the experience and I wanted to support and show that I was there for them and I cared about everything that was happening.
Becca: I think that’s a great place to end. Thank you, Nick.
Nick; Thank you, Becca.
Becca: Alright, I’m gonna turn it off!