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December 6th, 2012
06:12 PM ET

Your take on black in America

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.”

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