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- U.S. in 5 words: How we see ourselves
- Aja Barber asked on Twitter last week: "How would you sum up #AmericaInFiveWords?"
- #AmericaInFiveWords has been used more than 99,000 times
- Race relations, guns and fast food among common themes
- People also express pride and hope for the future
(CNN) -- How would you describe America in five words?
That's what Aja Barber wanted to know last week as she was reflecting on how it feels to be a black person in America.
She tweeted the question on Friday: "How would you sum up #AmericaInFiveWords?" She targeted black Twitter by posing the question to influential writers and activists Baratunde Thurston and Feminista Jones. They responded, sharing the conversation with their hundreds of thousands of followers, and the hashtag took off.
#AmericaInFiveWords: THIS IS ONLY A TEST. cc @etoilee8
— Baratunde (@baratunde) December 27, 2014
#AmericaInFiveWords Country founded on genocide/enslavement
— Mother of Kittehs (@FeministaJones) December 27, 2014
No home for Black people #AmericaInFiveWords
— zellie (@zellieimani) November 24, 2014
Liberty and justice for some.
— TheNewDeal (@TheNewDeal) December 27, 2014
By Monday night, the hashtag had been used more than 99,000 times as people of all racial backgrounds and political persuasions weighed in, steering the conversation in various directions. Some challenged the sentiments related to racial inequality and oppression, with conservative columnist Michelle Malkin among the first chime in.
If you are using #AmericaInFiveWords to complain, I have 5 words for you: Move. To. Cuba. Don't. Return.
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) December 27, 2014
Barber said she started the hashtag because she feels unsafe as a black person in the United States. She wanted to encourage others to share how it feels to be a person of color right now in America -- and, she wanted others to listen. To her, the wide range of responses to #AmericaInFiveWords, especially on the conservative side, is further proof of the country's racial divide.
"I feel like right now there's two Americas. Some of America thinks that everything is fine and the other thinks that it's not," she said in a phone interview Monday. "I think it says something about the state of our country that when minorities speak their mind and from their heart they come under attack."
Along with race relations, guns, police and war were common themes:
#AmericaInFiveWords Guns? Legal. Kinder Eggs? Nope.
— Evan Edinger (@EvanEdinger) December 28, 2014
Two time World War champs. #AmericaInFiveWords 💪🇺🇸
— Republican Sass (@RepublicanSass) December 29, 2014
#AmericaInFiveWords 1)We Got Money for War 2)But Can't Feed the Poor
— TheNewDeal (@TheNewDeal) December 29, 2014
Yeah, we're still pretty racist. #AmericaInFiveWords
— Jimble Bells (@NintendoFanFTW) December 29, 2014
Has Gun At Home Because #AmericaInFiveWords #UniteBlue
— McSpocky (@mcspocky) December 27, 2014
Our obsession with fast food and portion sizes was also a popular trope:
#AmericaInFiveWords combination pizza hut taco bell
— Andy Milionakis (@AndyMilonakis) December 27, 2014
Unlimited Soup Salad and Breadsticks #AmericaInFiveWords
— Trevor S (@trevso_electric) December 29, 2014
Fortunately, amid the negativity and cynicism, expressions of pride and hope could be found -- along with what some might call opportunities for improvement:
— Sisserydoo (@sisserydoo) December 29, 2014
— Veterans United (@veteransunited) December 29, 2014
#AmericaInFiveWords: Freedom. Liberty. Justice. Strength. Opportunity. RT if you agree!
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) December 29, 2014
— LiNCOLN PARK (@linc0lnpark) December 29, 2014
— Shoq (@Shoq) December 27, 2014
How would you describe America in five words? Tweet at @CNNLiving using the hashtag #AmericaInFiveWords.