America in five words: How we see ourselves

There was a wide range of responses to "How would you sum up #AmericaInFiveWords?"

Story highlights

  • 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

(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.
      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.
      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:
      Our obsession with fast food and portion sizes was also a popular trope:
        Fortunately, amid the negativity and cynicism, expressions of pride and hope could be found -- along with what some might call opportunities for improvement:
        How would you describe America in five words? Tweet at @CNNLiving using the hashtag #AmericaInFiveWords.