Is This the America You Want?

Opening scene from HBO television show Newsroom starring Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy.

In this scene of the Newsroom, a student in the audience asks a question for the news anchors sitting on stage.  “What makes America the greatest country in the world?” Two of the news anchors readily answer the question, stating that “freedom” and “diversity and opportunity” is what makes America the stand above all others.  However, the third news anchor, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), known to be an audience pleaser by avoiding questions and interrogations that would point him to one side of the political spectrum or bias.  McAvoy’s response weighs heavily on the audience, as he states that “America is not the greatest country in the world”.  In his response he lists continuous examples of how America falls behind many other countries, and only leads the world in number of “incarcerated citizens per capita” and “defense spending”.

While some may not agree with McAvoy entirely, he is correct in raising the reality that America faces an issue of mass incarceration.  America imprisons more people than any country in the world, including those experiencing civil wars, and the incarceration of citizens of color is greater than the rate at which black Afrikaners were imprisoned during the apartheid in South Africa.  This racial disparity is often overrepresented in the media and by political figures.  In the television show, Newsroom, a well-established cable-new network is working to develop a better way to relay news to the people in the most accurate and ethical way as it happens.  If the media more accurately portrayed white and colored group crimes, many would be shocked to find that white people commit just as many and just as worse of crimes as minority groups; however, white people are less likely to be incarcerated for the same crime.  The media also fails to represent black women in the same way black men and white men/women are represented; they often are never discussed to the same scale that other groups are discussed, creating the idea that black women’s lives are less important than others.

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