Furthermore, David Walker asserts that one of the most damaging things is when individuals think that they are free, when societal inequalities still dictate their agency. He cites a black man who worked as a shoe-shiner, who claimed: “I am completely happy!!! I never want to live any better or happier than when I can get a plenty of boots and shoes to clean!!!” (Walker 29). If this individual understood the reality of power in the 1820’s in the American south, he would not see himself as free.
This passage made me think about Charles Murray’s Article “ Are Too Many People Going to College”, in which he weighs the economic value of of going to college versus receiving a vocational training. Murray suggests that for a man of medium academic ability deciding between getting trained to be an electrician or pursuing a degree to become a manager, he should choose to be an electrician—he will likely make more money in the long run. Lastly, he cites “the satisfaction of being good at what one does for a living” as another reason to choose a position as an electrician.
When comparing Murray’s and Walker’s Appeal, it is easy say that Murray leaves out discussion of power dynamics within American society. How is Murray’s electrician related to Walker’s shoe-shiner? Does the electrician deny himself the opportunity to see the world in greater complexity? Is it elitist to think of higher education as the key to seeing things the way they really are?
Who should be going to college?