The environment in which you were raised was not normal or healthy.
Your mother was addicted to heroin and developed AIDS from sharing
drug needles. You also lost two
younger brothers to AIDS. What was it like growing up in that environment?
I was in such pain and anger growing up.
I didn’t speak to my mother for a long time because I couldn’t
understand why she was my mother and why she would put her family through
this turmoil. My view of the
world was very distorted. I
thought I was the only child with a dysfunctional family.
I questioned God nearly everyday of why I was born to this family.
It was hard for a long time because everyone kept telling me how
wonderful, special and smart I was, but I felt horrible inside. I didn’t
understand why they were saying all these great things about me, yet my
family was dying off from a deadly disease.
Despite your challenges growing up, did you have any mentors? If so, what role did they play in your life at that time?
Since I did not know who my father was growing up, it seemed like
every man close to my family stepped in to be a mentor and role model. My uncles became second fathers.
They taught me a lot about family and being a man.
They were very instrumental in my developing a sense of masculinity.
I had male teachers from school who were always encouraging me and
pushing me to reach my goals and to dream.
There was a black man who owned a store in my neighborhood and he
hired me to work in his store. He
became a strong presence in my life.
brought me into his family as if I was his own.
His son and I became the best of friends.
So I had a lot of mentors to help direct my path and guide me to
being a great man. At most of
my speaking engagements and forums for women, I strongly encourage single
women who are raising young men to find a positive male figure to expose
their sons to and allow him to be a part of their sons development into a
man. It can be an uncle,
teacher, or friend of the family.
sure that it is someone that you and your son know well.
you explain “Spirit” and the impact that it has had on your life?
I speak of Spirit, I am speaking of God’s Spirit on, in and around my
life. God’s anointing of his
Spirit is by grace. It’s
something that has been granted to each of us through faith and by God’s
mercy. It is a blessing when
you choose to be obedient and listen for God’s direction for your life.
For many years I searched and questioned God about my purpose and
direction. Many men are looking
and seeking success, power and money through their own means.
When you surrender and let Spirit guide you, things and people
manifest in your life easy and painless.
When you are seeking and doing things on your own, it is difficult
and challenging. I encourage
all men to take the time to develop some type relationship with Spirit.
It’s the reason I created Men’s Empowerment and wrote the book
“Reclaim Your Power!” I am
committed to helping brothers develop their lives with power, conviction and
Tell us about Men’s Empowerment, Inc.
What prompted you to develop Men’s Empowerment, Inc?
Men’s Empowerment found me.
am only the vessel that answered God’s call to create Men’s Empowerment.
While I listened to the calling of Men’s Empowerment I noticed that
this was the answer to our sisters, mothers, wives, girlfriends,
grandmothers and our communities.
became connected and opened my eyes and saw my community growing in despair
and wanted to create an outlet for men to get involved and reconnect with
the youth. I wanted men to
reconnect with themselves and with the men and women in their lives.
Men’s Empowerment is a vehicle that helps unite the many powerful,
positive and empowered men I know.
waned to create a space where all of these men could come and unite with one
another and provide insights, knowledge, and information to other men of
color. Men’s Empowerment
began over 3 years ago with 20 men, now our membership is well over 300 men
from various backgrounds and ages.
Men’s Empowerment started I had no idea it would grow and get so many men
involved with their lives, families, and communities.
Each month we feature a guest speaker who provides inspiration from
their own experiences and shares with the men tools that can be used in
their own lives. Some of our
previous guest speakers have been Emil Wilbekin, Editor in Chief of VIBE
Magazine; Kevin Powell, Author/Activist; Gordon Chambers, Grammy Winning
Songwriter; Kirk Burrowes, former CEO of Bad Boy Entertainment; Stacy
Spikes, CEO of Urbanworld Film Group, and Kevin Liles, President of Def Jam
Your book “Reclaim Your Power!” is a quick and easy read. It’s also chocked full of useful quotes and exercises.
Whose idea was that?
The motivation for writing “Reclaim Your Power” was
divinely given to me. The
healing process for myself was something the Creator was working directly
with me in order to evolve me into a vessel for the work to be dispersed
into the world. I asked to be
shaped and molded to do what I could for not only myself, but for my
community and fellow man. I was
amazed by the number of works and spiritual tools that our beautiful sisters
had created. They are nurturing
one another and are on a mission to heal one another.
They have become so powerful with their voices and support, it’s
amazing being in their presence.
this certain energy, this wonderful feeling of love that surrounds them that
makes you feel as if you don’t ever want to leave.
I imagined how it would feel to return that love and that energy and
thus the book “Reclaim Your Power” was born.
It was born from the necessity to empower and encourage men to return
to their power, joy, happiness, love and community.
It’s a book designed to provide men with a sense of themselves in
each page that will engage their spirits and minds to the power we all have
within ourselves. Men and
women can share this book with their fathers, mates, brothers, friends, and
did you get your book deal?
T. Dean: I am truly blessed.
My very good friend was once an editor at Simon and Schuster.
I told her about my book and she asked if she could look at it.
I gave her a copy of my manuscript.
She then in turn asked if I would be interested in sending it over to
her best friend who is an editor at Random House. The rest is history.
BMIA: How do
you define success?
T. Dean: I actually don’t
define success. Success is
success. Everyone is already
successful in whatever they are doing and being.
does the word “commitment” mean to you?
T. Dean: Commitment means
commitment to me.
By any stretch of the imagination you are a success.
Who are some of the people that you admire?
T. Dean: I admire anyone who
is not afraid to take chances. Anyone
who is not afraid to live life. I
admire those who are changing the lives others by putting themselves on the
front line. I admire those who
can wake up everyday and make choices for themselves because they recognize
freedom. I admire those who
serve God, listen to Spirit, and are not afraid to teach others how to do
BMIA: Why is
it important to treat yourself to nice things?
T. Dean: As I mentioned in
my book “Reclaim Your Power!” we tend to get so caught in making sure
that everyone else is taken care of that we don’t take care of ourselves.
We have to make sure the kids are behaving, our mates are satisfied,
we are working to our fullest potential, and being mindful of other things
in our lives that we forget to take the time to treat ourselves.
I make it a point to take the time to celebrate the small and great
goals I set for myself. I
celebrate with buying myself something or going out with friends to
celebrate or going on a vacation.
important to treat yourself.
a typical day like for Terrance Dean?
T. Dean: There is nothing
unusual or different about me than any other person. I go through a typical day like any other person.
I work constantly at my craft of writing and speaking.
I am constantly reading and staying abreast of things that affect our
community and world.
You had some interesting insights about fear and love in your book.
How can someone access love in his or her life?
T. Dean: Accessing love is
easy, very easy. All you have to do is choose love.
It sounds simple and it sounds easy, but so many people never choose
love. They like what love
represents but they cannot choose it for themselves because many people feel
they don’t deserve love. Many
people feel others are not deserving of their love.
When God loves you, God loves you despite yourself – despite your
flaws, guilt, envy, jealousy, and pain.
Now if God loves you in spite of, why can’t you love yourself and
others? The greatest gift God
gave us is the power of choice. We
can choose whatever we need or want for ourselves.
If you desire love, then choose love…be love and be loving.
What would you say has been your biggest success to date?
(Personal and/or business).
T. Dean: Being born is my
biggest success. It takes a lot
to come into this world and be your purpose.
should people buy your book “Reclaiming Your Power?”
I think men of color all over will rejoice.
They will stand up and be proud that a book exists for them and by
someone like them. I must admit
that the book is my healing, it is my process of development and growth.
I only hope that men of color all over will embrace the book with an
open mind, an open spirit, and a sense of change.
I do know that it was written for the purpose of affecting change
because so many great and positive men are looking to continuing their
growth and building strong communities.
This book is just that – a book of inspiration and encouragement.
Is there anything about you or your views that you would like people
T. Dean: I am about working and exercising spirituality in men.
A lot of us need recharging and a work out for our spirits.
A lot of men are extremely consumed with working out their bodies. A lot of times men are consumed with the outer appearance and
in making themselves look good and appealing for the world.
So much energy is spent on the outer appearance that we neglect the
inner being, our spirits. Not
to discredit men who are connected spiritually, Cardio Spirituality helps
you maintain your connection and provides some new regimens you can add to
your journey. Cardio
Spirituality is about waking up your spirit and becoming active in the
process of life. Cardio Spirituality wakes you up and opens your eyes to what
you have been attaching to your spirit.
We attach negative influences, negative words, and a lack of
communication with God. Cardio
Spirituality is exercising your spirit through prayer, meditation and a
reconnection with life. You
learn to watch for the negative things coming at you.
You become more in tune with your communication and the power you
have over words. Just as your
body changes with your physical workout, your spirit begins to awaken and
your whole way of being affects your body, mind, and soul.
Your regenerated spirit connects you with life and God and the way
you look at life is so much fuller and with purpose that you really connect
with God’s purpose of your life.
do you do to stay grounded and maintain a sense of balance in your life?
T. Dean: I surround myself
with positive and motivating people.
very important to have great people around you who are doing great things.
I also love my family and friends.
I love being with them because they are not expecting me to say or do
something profound all the time.
just get together and laugh and have a great time.
I also make sure to pray, meditate, and incorporate some positive
reading in my diet.
are some things that brothers can do to make a difference in their
T. Dean: Some of the
suggestions I make in my book “Reclaim Your Power!” are being a part of
your community and being a mentor.
we can save our communities. We
cannot leave it up to some outside forces or governmental agencies to save
our communities. We are the
kings and princes so we must make sure to step in and help develop mature,
masculine and empowered men. If
you can read, write, or build anything, then you can teach and mentor people
in the community. Stop waiting
until you become the CEO or Executive in a company, you can do it now and
are the biggest challenges facing black men in America?
T. Dean: Access to
resources - Information and resources as it relates to jobs, money, and
entrepreneurial development. 2.)
Leaving the ‘hood – going away to college will not be a detriment
to you. Also relocating for a
job will probably be in your best interest.
Ego and Pride
2009, what will life be like for Terrance Dean?
T. Dean: I can tell you what’s present for Terrance
and that is remaining open to guidance from Spirit.
It has called for a series of books that continue to nurture and
inspire men of color. I have
been actively speaking at various colleges and universities to encourage and
empower young men of color to stay in school because there is an alarming
rate of young men of color who are dropping out of college.
I also go to prisons to speak to the men there.
I think we sometimes forget about these men and society has written
them off. It’s important to
reach these brothers and encourage them with their own sense of power and
success as well. I provide
workshops for young men at schools and juvenile centers.
I also do workshops with not for profit organizations.
I am also doing workshops for women to help them find, nurture and
love a spiritual man.