Dexter A. Powell Jr. has lived a life made for books. With early battles of juvenile delinquency, obesity, addiction and suicide, he turned pain into triumph and has penned a motivational book he hopes others will see as inspiration.
Young King: Take Your Stand, originally published in 2020, is a cathartic release of one man’s journey through life and one decision that led him down a path of self-destruction. Moreover, it is a success story for others facing adversity, particularly the often left out, young Black men. The author has set a goal of distributing one million copies of the publication to those looking for a beacon of light.
“The book is written directly to our African American male youth between the ages of 12 and 18 about how ultimately that one decision that they make could affect the rest of their lives,” says Powell.
Addiction was an early coping mechanism for Powell. Finding comfort in food, the young Powell quickly began to gain weight. Garnishing the attention of classmates, Powell was often the subject of taunting and ridicule.
“From starting around seven-years-old is when I first realized I had this love and compulsion for food and no matter what was going on in my life; if my parents were fighting, if there was some drama, then I found myself going further and further down this rabbit hole of an addiction,” says Powell.
Growing up as a heavier child came with its own set of hardships, however, a shift in his family made the adjustment worse. Born to a military family, the Powell’s relocated to Michigan, but would soon be bound for the west coast.
“After the divorce, my mother, my brother and myself moved back to California and it wasn’t long after being back there that my mom got a boyfriend. This boyfriend came out of the military as well and he was very forceful in his discipline and it put a shocking to my system,” says Powell.
Rebellious, the teen began to act out. At a tender age, he had his first encounters with the law resulting in being roped into the system. Unbeknownst to the budding author, the catalysts for the book had already sparked.
“That’s where Young King: Take Your Stand comes into the picture because it’s basically a book that talks about me making one decision at 12-years-old that got me thrown into the California Juvenile System,” says Powell. “Not realizing, yeah, I was a bad kid, but I wasn’t a real gangster.
From six months in the detention center, to a boy’s group home, Powell continued to grapple with issues concerning weight. Weighing more than 400 pounds at 18-years-old, food was soon coupled with another addition; crack cocaine.
“I was addicted to crack cocaine just 48 hours after leaving my parents house. So from early on I’ve always gone through one thing after another. It’s always been despair, it’s always been destruction. I’ve never found purpose,” says Powell. “I always knew there was something on the inside of me, but I could never understand how I was going to get there.”
Now, the author is sober, healthy and embarking a new enlightened journey to save Black male youth. Hitting an initial goal of 10,000 books distributed across Michigan, Powell plans to reach greater heights striving to issue one million free copies of the book in one year’s time. Crediting God for his vision after a 29-day fast, Powell’s book is reaching its intended audience.
“Lives are being changed because I made the decision to change mine,” says Powell.
Hoping to encourage some additional movement, Powell has now enlisted the help of businesses to help get the word out and push the books into far-reaching spaces, extending beyond age and race.
“The next thing is to find corporate partnerships. My goal is to put the book in every juvenile detention facility across the country,” says Powell.
The book is currently available online.