Ants Among Elephants 

I like conversations like Tyler Cowen’s with Sujatha Gidla.

Sujatha Gidla was an untouchable in India, but moved to the United States at the age of 26 and is now the first Indian woman to be employed as a conductor on the New York City Subway. In her memoir Ants Among Elephants, she explores the antiquities of her mother, her uncles, and other members of her family against modern India’s landscape. Through this book she redeemed the value of her family’s memories, understanding her family’s stories were not those of shame, but did reveal to the world the truth of India and its caste system.

It is an empathy input for me, but I also liked it because I kinda disliked Ms. Gidla. This is mostly due to her strident Marxism,1 but too often, we want our social critics to reform while also considering our2 feelings.

This is an oversimplification, but one reason Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is elevated over Malcolm X in the modern mind is how comfortable we are with their methods of protest. Dr. King was a peaceful man of the cloth, and Malcolm X was…more complicated. Malcom X makes us3 uncomfortable, but he has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history for good reason. The simplified view of Dr. King’s movement is too often caricatured in a different way, and I highly recommend this podcast about the Deacons for Defense and Justice for a different perspective.

Returning to Sujatha Gidla, I’ve added her book Ants Among Elephants to my short list. I expect to learn and be uncomfortable while I read it.

  1. She uses the term as a worldview, and unsurprisingly looks at problems and sees them arising out of class differences. As she explains, “Marxism looks at the world in terms of class, like feminists looks at the world as men and women, and religious people look at the world as Christians and non-Christians, and Marxists look at people as workers and capitalists.” 

  2. The “our” here is whatever majority is on the other side of this type of conversation. 

  3. “Us” in the same context of “our” from earlier. 

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