What is empowerment?


At the start of each month, I introduce a theme that will weave through each published piece on The Keen Kind for the next 30 days. That is to say, I usually introduce a subject. For February and March, however, I failed to do so.

The theme for February was “empowerment,” which I chose to extend through March. I tried time and again to pull together an introduction for these months. I even mentioned the months’ topic in a few posts, like “Song of the Sea." However, I kept putting the writing off..and for the the single lamest reason: writing about empowerment is hard.

“Empowerment” is a strong word with a heavy burden. It carries years of history in its syllables, from feminism to theology to the Black Power movement to Gandhism (see here). How am I supposed to wrangle a large concept and form it in to a simple narrative-turned-thematic-intro-turned-conceptual-explanation of 1000 words or less?

Turns out, I can’t.

So I gave up. I am not going to write a post that fully encompasses the power of such a word and how it has impacted the stories on The Keen Kind for these last two months. Instead, I am going to grace you with the best possible introduction I can muster—a heartfelt definition:


Empowerment is strength.

It is influence, it is solidarity. It is how marginalized groups thrive, how oppressed hold each other aloft, how humans discover hope, how we raise and encourage our younger peers to blossom.

It is not the same as power.

It is not domination.

Empowerment is self-actualization.

It is when we see our potential, and that of others, and we embrace it and feed it and bathe in it.


For the remainder of this month, you will see writing that faces “empowerment” plainly for what it is, or uses the word as a seed from which a story sprouts. 

Here are posts published in February or earlier this month that stem from the “empowerment” theme. 

+ Song of the Sea

+ Three Generations: Empowerment

+ Favorite WoC Bloggers / Part 3

+ Why Do I Have to Keep Reminding You Not to Use the N-Word?

Stay tuned for the others writing set to publish before March ends.


And now I pose a question: What is empowerment for you and how would you define it?