My name is Guiddalia Emilien and I’m running for Mayor of New York City. I’ve been living in this amazing city for the last 12 years, and like many of you I’m a small-business owner. I’m an immigrant from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, proudly living in this country for the last 30 years. My mother migrated to the United States as a young parent, forced to leave my brother and I behind so she could offer us a better, safer future.
Luckily, in less than 10 years after my mother first stepped foot on this soil, her choice to escape from Haiti proved wise, and the new tree she planted began to bear fruit. She saved enough money to start a small business, buy a home, and later bring my brother and I to the United States. My family escaped tyranny and violence under the dictatorships of the leaders of my homeland to thrive here, in this great nation.
I watched every one of them come, struggle, and then finally triumph. I believed there was a formula: If you worked hard, hustled and did the best you could, you would succeed. The American Dream was real! I’ve seen it in action in my community, where so many Haitians escaped for freedom, hope, prosperity, and got exactly that.
They got exactly that because of favorable policies for small businesses. Policies that created a surplus of jobs in the market. Policies that created the expansion of the middle class. Policies that created good schools for our children and promoted entrepreneurship as an alternative to a college education.
The reality is that what was possible for so many of my family and community members to achieve back then seems to be impossible for so many now. This left me wondering if it was still possible to achieve The American Dream.
We have moved so far away from the achievable American Dream that was once possible for so many people who risked it all to come to this country. We have not been paying attention! COVID-19 is a “wake-up” call. We need to wake up! Failing policies by our local government have created a massive gap between the 1% and middle-income communities. And that gap is even wider between the 1% and lower-income communities.
Life is now harder for the average New Yorker. Starting a business, working hard to earn a living has become a bigger challenge than ever before. We all want to believe we have a shot at the American Dream, if not for us then for our children and our grandchildren.
I believe The American Dream can exist however, only if we put together fact-based policies with proven results. Policies that create jobs, promote small businesses, guarantee a living wage, promote human capital, fund better schools, puts the safety of New Yorkers first and acknowledge housing and healthcare as a human right. This means protecting middle and lower-income communities.
I’m not a politician and I do not have a fancy resume. I’m an individual, a small-business owner who loves this city, and believes that The American Dream is still worth fighting for. I believe that no matter where you stand, left, right or center, we all fundamentally want the same thing; we all want a shot at The American Dream.