What does empowerment mean exactly?

Do you share my dismay in growing increasingly confused by the various buzzwords utilized by the elected representatives of our government? It is very unclear where these words have materialized into anything tangible for our people despite their supposed intention. Yes, we’ve had a “social agenda”, yes, we strived for “independence” through “educating the public”, yes, we’re striving to “empower” black Bermudians. Yet, all of this remains unclear do to the lack of a tangible definition of what any of these terms or phrases actually mean and furthermore, clarify what these initiatives are actually supposed to amount to.

For example, lets take the campaign for “empowerment” and look up the meaning of the word. The American Heritage Dictionary gives the word empower two official definitions:

1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority.

2. To equip or supply with an ability; enable.

By the first definition, I ask, who are we investing power in, exactly? I fail to see how the average Black man is being invested with power, especially legal power or power of authority. The average Black man appears to hold no more influence over our government then does the white man, aside from the fact that it could be said that we have a present leadership that is primarily represented by Blacks.

By this definition, does it mean that we are investing more power in our present leadership simply on the basis that the color of their skin matches that of the majority? Such as, in examples where we watched as our present leadership “empowered” themselves with hefty pay raises without public consultation, along with fancy cars and nearly a $12 million budget to travel the world? How about the effective elimination of the effectiveness of our Auditor General, thus empowering our leadership to spend that unaccounted for $800 million however they deemed necessary, without any accountability?

Or, perhaps I missed where, by empowerment, we are referring to the second definition of the word. Where have these various causes undertaken in the name of empowerment done anything to improve our terrible fail out rate to afford and ensure that every Bermudian is effectively educated? Have we become equipped, enabled, and dare I say, empowered, to be able to survive in Bermuda’s treacherous economy?

How about housing? Where has utilizing special development orders to rush the Loughlands project through with no planning approval brought homes to those in need? How can something be considered “affordable” when only to those with double incomes and no kids who still need to save ever penny could manage? I fail to witness how this is equipping, enabling nor empowering Blacks in our community such as those who live on the street, or those single parents to give it there all but barely survive as it is.

So many Bermudians would truly love to see not just Blacks, but all Bermudians empowered with the tools we need to prosper in our country and manage a living in our home. Unfortunately it remains quite unclear as to just what is meant when “empowerment” is trumpeted as a buzzword, with no simple definition or explanation of what it actually means. Similar could also be said for many other words that have been broadcast, yet, as always, are followed up with a severe lack of action.

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