Editor's Note: In today’s United States, is being black determined by the color of your skin, by your family, by what society says, or something else? Soledad O’Brien reports “Who Is Black in America?” on CNN at 8 p.m. ET/PT this Sunday, December 15.
By Jamescia Thomas, Special to CNN
(CNN) - CNN invited iReporters to share their thoughts on being Black in America in 2012. Some said they had to work twice as hard to remain competitive. Others said a strong racial identity was vital and societal views on being black were too narrow to fit the entire race. Here are five perspectives from African-Americans on how they view the definition of black in 2012. What would you add?
Comfort in being a minority
Antwon Chavis grew up without much of a cultural identity, outside of the acknowledgement of his race. The 27-year-old medical student from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was one of the few black kids in his school. He remembers being called on often to make photos seem more diverse or to voice his opinion so that the minority perspective was heard.
He identified more with his white peers and remembers being rejected by his black peers. For a while, he realized he didn’t fit in with any race and thrived only after he acknowledged that was OK.
Chavis opted to go to historically black Meharry Medical College. He said he chose to go there because he found himself becoming too comfortable as the minority and needed to explore “black culture,” which he often avoided.
“If I could choose to sit at a table of black strangers, a table of white strangers, or a table of both black and white strangers, I would pick the white table all day, everyday,” Chavis said. “I was the duck that forgot it was a duck until it separated from the swans and saw its reflection.”
Now in his final year of medical school, Chavis said although he never grew up facing any hardships, being a black man in America is tough. He said he feels as though he is constantly fighting against the societal box for a black man.
“Being black in 2012 means different things to different people,” he said. “And to me, it means being who I am. And for once, who I am is just right.”FULL POST
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
The war of the sexes is still up for grabs. But are there really battles to be fought? Can men and women reach a truce? Here are a few different areas where readers haggled out their views.
1. Strength of friendships
A story about a group of men who are friends and take pictures of themselves together every five years - for 30 years - has gotten a very positive response from readers, who told us about their own friends and their favorite photos. One thing we noticed was several people discussing which gender is better at being friends. You be the judge.
Many readers said they think men have the edge with friends.
Stolat: "Finally CNN, a feel-good story that doesn't make me want to support xenocide on the opposite sex. Good read. I agree, women are less successful in placing priority on friendships."
But some are envious of women's good times.
boarddog: "My wife is in her mid-40s and is still close friends with three of her friends from high school. (They all still live in the same town). My friends have changed with time. (I moved away from the home town in my early 20s). I now have just a couple of "close" friends, but I think we'll all be in each other's lives from here out. Sometimes I wish I had those long time friends like my wife ..."
A woman on a different thread was less optimistic.
ImIrish: "We are b--es often, jealousy is a problem, and women don't forget. If guys have problem with each other, they get it out, and that's it. Women hang onto stuff forever (again, sadly, I am including myself). I do have a very dear friend that I grew up with (we were 1 1/2 when we met!), but she lives out-of-state, has a busy life, so we mostly keep in touch by e-mail. I love her to death, but I wish we were geographically closer. Sometimes, I feel very alone and sad. My husband is great, but talking to another woman is different."
This person wondered how the response to the story would have differed if the group were female instead of male. FULL POST
By Michael Saba, CNN
(CNN) - Protesters and activists demanding justice for slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin are no closer to closure, even with the news that second-degree murder charges were filed against shooter George Zimmerman. The charges were the latest development in a heated national debate over race and justice in America.
The debate on CNN iReport mirrored a national outcry, which saw thousands taking to the streets in "Million Hoodie" marches, demanding that formal charges be filed against Zimmerman.
"Justice for Trayvon" was a common refrain on the placards of street protesters, and in the comments section of CNN and other news and media websites.
There was also a countervailing opinion of skepticism about the murky details of the case. Before the charges against Zimmerman were filed, many expressed concern over how the case was playing out in the court of public opinion, saying that judgment should be withheld until the legal system had enough time to render a proper verdict. Reaction to the charges against Zimmerman has been mixed, with many iReporters and CNN commenters expressing a mixture of relief, puzzlement and disappointment.