Is the American Dream Still a Dream?

Lunar New Year is here and 2021 is the year of the Ox, the symbol of honesty and hard work. For many POC, hard work and the American Dream have gone hand in hand. While the American Dream may have looked different for each person and generation, it provided a shared sense of hope and a vision of success to strive towards. But what about now? In a divided America exposed by Covid-19, what even is the American Dream? We asked five Asian American founders to share their definitions of the American Dream and personal success.

Dan Q. Dao, District One Agency

A shower thought you recently had:

I'm about to leave New York City after living here for over 10 years. A decade has gone by in the blink of an eye! Does it only get worse from here? Does life only move faster? Did I achieve everything I wanted to? Did I find love? How am I almost 30?! Oh god.

What's your definition of the American Dream?

The American Dream is simply an ideal - a baseline that society has defined as the "goal" in life, and is a fairytale spun for immigrants and people of color to have hope that they too can achieve this. The reality of who gets access to this life, who inherits it, and who must work for it is much more nuanced. I think the American Dream is just that - a dream. For those from marginalized identities, creating our own dream in our own image is more important.

Joleen Hsu & Jackie Kao, untold

What's your definition of the American Dream?

Joleen: To me, the American Dream represents opportunity for everyone from all racial, ethnic, or socio-economic backgrounds. Unfortunately, there’s so much more work we need to do as a country to truly build an equitable economy. My hope is to continue being an advocate for inclusion and help to pave the way for a better “American Dream” - one that is representative of communities of color.

What does your version of success look like?

Jackie: I see success as a constant journey that’s ever-changing and iterative. To me, success is when I’m utilizing design to bridge the gap between where we are currently and where we hope to be. I find success at the end of each day, and it could appear in the most minute form, like learning a new design tool that could be used to build upon that vision for a better future. There is no endeavor too trite to be discounted.

Hikari Senju, Omneky

What does your version of success look like?

The freedom to spend everyday meaningfully.

What's one piece of advice you wish you'd received before starting your company?

Start slow, grow real.

Ryan Kim, Kim'C Market

An unusual skill that you have:

I can taste a dish and name at least 5 ingredients and condiments that went into making it.

What does your version of success look like?

Seeing that my life contributed to the betterment of other people's lives. Since my childhood, I've been interested in public service. To me, it's the most powerful way to improve the quality of people’s lives. Now through Kim’C Market, I am making my own contribution by helping people have easier access to clean, high quality Korean food and ingredients.

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