BLAST: Who are you?
NICOLE SULLIVAN: Well, it depends who you ask. First, important demographics: I am a twenty one year old queer women living in Somerville and going to school at a local community college. I have been involved in activism for over a year, I started with anti-rape activism (I am survivor of multiple assaults). I grew up in an upper middle class family, graduated with honors from a top notch private high school and was homeless by the time I was 19. I didn’t use drugs. I was working and in college. I became severely ill from an assault at 18, did not have familial support and the burden was not something I was able to carry. I managed to work my way out of poverty and am now back in school.
Basically, I am someone who has been on both sides of the fence. I’ve seen the amazing privileges that come from being born into the right family and having some modicum of wealth and I’ve seen the incredible hardship of living within a system that is stacked against the average person. I’ve been a hard worker most of my life, it wasn’t that I hit eighteen and became lazy or dumb or an addict. It was just once I lost the backbone of wealth, it did not matter how hard I worked. There is no way to win.
BLAST: What do you do?
NS: At Occupy, I do quite a few things. I am in several action oriented groups such as Direct Action and street teams. I believe that doing actions is the only way to create change. Its like that cliché, “actions speak louder than words.” The fact that Occupy is so action oriented is why I joined. I was sick of talking about things, I wanted change I am also in a couple of outreach groups – outreach and movement building – where we reach out into the Boston community to try to get really grounded in community issues and to bring our message out to the masses. I also do a lot of anti-oppression work. I came into activism through feminism and I see everything from an anti-oppressive standpoint. I fully believe that we need to include the full 99% percent to be a mass movement so the anti-oppression working groups I am in seek to create a space to do that. I also participate in more infrastructure related groups, such as in reach which works on internal communication. Occupy Boston keeps me pretty busy.
BLAST: What’s your gripe?
NS: Well, I could go for a long while about corporate control of our economy and government, income disparity and the like. Those are facets of why I am here. However, for me, there is something much deeper. At the heart of things, I just expect more. I expect more of my government. I expect more of my communities. I expect more of my neighbors. We can be better than mass poverty, income disparity, greed. We can be so much better. We deserve to be better than this. I think it is the very basis of our country, this idea of expecting more. It has gotten lost amid mass apathy and misinformation. For a while, I thought everyone had just given up. Occupy proves me wrong in the best way.
BLAST: Share a memory?
NS: There are so many. One that will always stick with me is the night of the first mass arrest on Columbus Day. I was part of the line defending the expansion camp when the police through us. There were screams, I saw my friends get hurt. I was extraordinarily scared. Then, I looked around. Everyone was scared, the girl next to me was shaking – but none of us were leaving. We were all here to do what was right. I didn’t even know half of the 141 people who were arrested, but it didn’t matter. In that moment, we were all much bigger than individuals. It was a unity I had never seen before in my life.
BLAST: What’s next?
NS: So much. The past two months were barely the beginning. We’re just getting started.