diciembre 7, 2022


Empowered Empoderados

Jesús Sánchez Meleán

Haga click aquí para leer la versión en español

I admit that the word “empowerment” sounded very shocking and shrill to me when I first heard it about 20 years ago. I was reluctant to use it. I would search for the first linguistic alternative I could find so I wouldn’t have to pronounce it. I didn’t like to write it either. I even shuddered at the thought of having to get to the “arrival point” where the word would naturally fit. The same thing happens to me with two other little words, “organic” and “resilience”. I avoid resorting to them at all costs. I still don’t understand them, and I don’t find them useful. Empowered.

However, I must also admit that recently, very recently, I have found a certain richness of content in the word “empower”. And I have started to use it, little by little, with different conjugations or occupying different functions in the sentence. For example, I can say that Hispanics are being “empowered” in the United States. I don’t mean that they think they are “God’s gift to mankind”. My point is that this community has begun to use its potential to contribute in different ways to the development of the country.

Silvana Montenegro, director of Advancing Hispanics & Latinos at JPMorgan Chase, shared with me some figures that are revealing about the performance of Hispanics in the US. The economic strength of this community contributed $2.7 billion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually on average in the current decade. In the same period, Hispanics have shown that they possess $1.9 billion in average purchasing power.


With these figures, Hispanics in the U.S. would represent the seventh largest economy in the world if they were a country. The pandemic hit them hard. I would say very reluctantly that Hispanics are “resilient” because the economic paralysis of 2020 and 2021 did not wipe them out. In the U.S., a quarter of small businesses are still Hispanic owned. That’s some 437 million established businesses that operate because of the initiative of those with origins south of the Rio Grande.

Let’s just say that Hispanic entrepreneurship can be described as “organic”. That is to say that the drive to progress and develop is natural to Hispanics. Otherwise, it is hard to explain why this community has been able to overcome the obstacles it faces. Imagine what could happen if this community in general, and in particular the 14 million Hispanics without an immigration status, were allowed by the U.S. political establishment to have access to the same opportunities as the rest of the population.

I am certain that a new word should be invented to describe this new reality these Hispanics would help to build in the USA.

Jesús Sánchez Meleán

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