Define American, a project of Tides founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and dedicated to changing the conversation about immigration, today launched a feature that enables anyone, anywhere, to share their personal experiences, thoughts, and beliefs about what it means to be an “American” today. Over 500 stories and definitions have already been submitted by immigrants and their allies, and will be unveiled over the next few days.  As Vargas noted, “I shared my personal story to lay bare the realities and complexities of living as an undocumented immigrant. But I’m just one person; it’s just one story.”  Take a look at Jose’s video:

Among the first participants to “define American” include Stephen Colbert, Russell Simmons, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Michael Bennet,  BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort, Ben Patton (General Patton’s grandson), and Twilight: New Moon and A Better Life director Chris Weitz. Julie Erfle, whose husband, a Phoenix police officer, was killed by an undocumented immigrant and has been a proponent of sensible immigration reform ever since, uploaded a video where she tells her moving story:

Any immigrant, immigrant ally, or citizen can digitally share their story via video, audio, photos or text.  Just visit Define American’s website and follow the simple instructions to upload your story.

As Jake Brewer, co-founder of Define American adds, “From our inception, we sought to tell and share stories of not just undocumented immigrants, but also their allies–members of the 21st century Underground Railroad of supporters, from principals to pastors, coaches to classmates. We look forward to people from all walks of life–of all ages, all backgrounds and political leanings–answering the question ‘How do you Define American?'”

Define American is dedicated to changing the conversation about immigrants in America who are an inexorable part of our communities and our society. Founded by award-winning multimedia journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and co-founded by Jake Brewer, Jehmu Greene and Alicia Menendez, Define American harnesses the power of storytelling and social media to bring about greater awareness of and support for immigration reform.