Spring Forth

     As I am reading the essay ‘Why Keep Asking Me About My Identity?’ by Nawal El Saadawi, several thoughts run through my mind. One, why is it that I have never heard of this phenomenal author and advocate for social justice up until this point? From that question, another is birthed. How many other brilliant authors, poets, and orators have been shrouded in the closets of history? Even more, how many ‘illiterate’ geniuses passed down libraries of wisdom through oral tradition, only for it to be lost through hundreds of years of cultural evolution, amalgamations, and outright genocide?

     As these questions propel my eyes through the pages of Saadawi’s text, she relates her experience as an African scholar traveling to international conferences on the African identity. She ponders, “Why does no one ask you what is your ‘identity’? Is it that the American ‘identity’, American culture, does not require any questioning, does not need to be examined, or studied or discussed?” (Saadawi, 1997)

     Suffice to say, the status quo is not normally questioned. This reigns true in any arena; Christianity being the dominant world religion, no one asks, “Why would you want to believe in Jesus?”, instead questioning you if you travel outside of this religious standard. One could name thousands of cases is which this is true; enterpreneurship, homeschooling, deviating from the standard American diet, and individual style in hair and clothing are just a small sample of decisions considered ‘questionable’ because they step outside of the norm.

    While variations from status quo may evoke interragation, they are necessary for societal change. When that one person or group chooses to live in color in a monochrome time, it saturates all with the brilliant hues of human evolution. This growth as humans serves as a uniting force through the invisible divisive grid we have self-imposed throughout history. As Saadawi puts it, “This struggle for change, for revolution, can unite us across differences in colour, in race, in language, in culture, in sex, in identity.” (Saadawi, 1997)

     We should hope that this proves true. Otherwise, we shall be as bone cells of human anatomy; the osteoblasts spring forth and create new bone while the osteocytes are left behind trapped in the ‘matrix’.


Saadawi, N.E. (1997). The Nawal El Saadawi reader. New York, NY: Zed Books.



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