On Friday, the United States of America swore in its 45th President. Donald J. Trump was inaugurated in front of millions watching from home, as well as plenty of “Make America Great Again” supporters who attended the proceedings in the nation’s capital.
I’m a middle-class white male in the Midwest. I don’t feel the plight of a woman, the inequality of a minority or the seclusion of someone in the LGBTQ+ community; but I can see why the election and inauguration have sparked a negative reaction.
I can’t speak for everyone, but the day that Barack Obama stepped down and Trump assumed office was seemingly a difficult one for women, minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, the poor; and whomever else that has felt the indignation of the Trump campaign from the very start.
From the peaceful Women’s Marches to masked groups of individuals destroying stores and setting vehicles on fire, the protests have begun.
Opting to voice his displeasure in a way that only he can, actor Shia LaBeouf has unveiled his newest project titled ‘He Will Not Divide Us’. The project is a participatory performance art piece that allows anyone to voice their discontent with the election of Donald Trump as a live stream that is planned to stay broadcasting for the entirety of the next four years.
The camera is set up on a wall outside of the Museum of the Moving Image in New York and invites anyone to look directly into the camera and say the phrase for as long as they wish.
According to the website, “The mantra ‘HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US’ acts as a show of resistance or insistence, opposition or optimism, guiding by the spirit of each individual participant and the community.”
To me, “He Will Not Divide Us” is a strong phrase within itself and, in my opinion, it caters to the younger generations that could be more open to diversity, women’s rights, civil rights and gay rights.
According to a poll ran by USA Today, people between the ages of 18-29 vehemently opposed Trump by 55 percent in the 2016 election, whereas 45-year-old’s and above voted for the eventual winner. Therefore, the people who helped elect Trump are not who will have to bear the burden of what may come from a man who has been openly misogynistic and racist; and his Vice President Mike Pence, who has a history of pushing homophobic legislation in his home state of Indiana.
‘He Will Not Divide Us’ is more than a line of words that are strung together to create a meaning. It’s a rallying cry – a rallying cry that is going to have different meanings for everyone that encounters it.
At the very base it is a phrase that is aimed to inform the very people that voted for our President, that no matter what happens in the next four years, nothing can be done to erase the progress and unity that is valued by our community through the Obama presidency.
Donald Trump is a man that seems to stand for the mistreatment of women, evokes irrational attacks against minorities who are American citizens, and frightening the safety of groups of people that do not fall into what he deems acceptable and has threatened any progress that has been gained.
In his inauguration speech, President. Trump said, “Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag.”
That sentiment, quite frankly, is not a reality for groups of people that have, time and time again, felt the burden of inequality in our country, and now that burden of inequality seems to be backed by the actions of our President.
This project from Labeouf, along with the marches, protests, chants and overall resistance to the newly donned administration, serves as a reminder that we the people will not be divided at the hands of one man.