“Laissez les bons temps rouler” which is Cajun-French for “let the good times roll”! I hail from the land of crawfish boils, Jazz music, voodoo, King Cake, and world-famous Café Du Monde beignets: New Orleans, Louisiana!  If there is one thing we love more than Mardi Gras, it’s good food.  I love to cook, and I love to eat; it’s in my blood and in my heart.  But the secret ingredient that’s made my life so flavorful?  The village.  Everyone I’ve met in my community no matter how great or how small has added “a smidge” of something here, added a “pinch” of something there and mixed it all together to create the man before you.

My name is Anthony Mitchell and this is my Crystal Stair.

How do you define success?  What will it look like for you?

Success to me is the marriage of happiness + fulfilment. 

I was fortunate enough to graduate Valedictorian of my high school, and as such, I had several scholarships to universities throughout Louisiana and beyond.  As much as I loved the place that had invested so much into me, I knew there was more to life than just the borders of Louisiana, and surprisingly, so did my mother.  She was a big advocate for me broadening my horizons and ultimately attending Penn State for my Bachelor in Political Science.  It was hard, to say the least, and the first part of my success equation, happiness, was a journey that I grew into the more that I learned about the world and about myself.

After traveling abroad, working for local government, and now spending time at the nation’s capital, I – like many other young black men – became encouraged to pursue my passion in shaping policy to address the inequalities in this country. Our “We the People” democracy doesn’t always work the way it was intended for everyone.  I want to be on the right side of history when we look back decades from now to the moments that help make this country a little more just and fairer for everyone.  Working on fixing the disparities in Civil liberties, education, health care, and even the judiciary system is frustrating, but more than that, it is fulfilling.

The compilation of my life experiences – both lessons and blessings – has led me to what I mentioned earlier about the coupling of happiness and fulfillment as a means of success, but that is not the only way.  We each have our own journey and passions to pursue which introduce boundless possibilities for how happiness, fulfillment, or even success can manifest in your life. It’s ok to not be there yet because the journey is arguably as important as the destination.

If you could change the way society viewed young black men, what would you have them see?

Black trauma is real.  Black PTSD is real. Black boys who have unrealized trauma typically don’t address these traumas until it’s too late – when it counts in relationships with their spouses, children, and their families.  I’ll admit, a lot of black men perpetuate this pain unto our black women, which has been institutionally and systematically ingrained in the minds of our men since before any of us were born.  That is all the more reason to take a long hard look at ourselves to intentionally fix the things within ourselves that cause us pain and actively break these generational curses.

We have to understand and internalize that young black men and women are special and should be nurtured.  Feed them the truth about themselves: they are worthy of love and success; they are beautiful, resilient souls that are genetically coded for greatness; and they are not bound by anything they were born into.  The United States is a little spicier and flavorful because of black people. Our significant, but often overlooked contribution to the fabric of this country is something we hold dear. As a country, we can all afford to give someone else that doesn’t identify as we do compassion and grace because perception is not always reality.