Cierra Thurman on Police Brutality and Not Letting Your Past Dictate Your Future
When we look at the role of women in 2016 we can see that it continues to evolve. More and more women are creating their own success. Cierra Thurman is one of those women. When she was a child she lost her father at the hands of police. Determined to reverse the stigma and be an example of how the community should view officers, she became one.
But she didn’t stop there. She also decided to share her story in hopes to connect with those who have similar experiences as she did growing up. Her book My Life: The One He Never Got to Witness, highlights some of her dark moments but reminds readers not to let their past hold them back from reaching success.
In a transparent interview, Cierra shares how her childhood molded her and more.
What was your childhood like? How did it shape the woman you are today?
My father was tragically killed by the police when I was a little girl. He was in our home, he was unarmed, and he was shot five times in his back! Growing up, I always wanted to be Daddy's Little Girl, but unfortunately that was not possible because no matter how often I prayed to the man above, and believe me, I prayed every night, he just didn't want to bring my daddy back.
I am a native of Chicago and was raised in a gang infested neighborhood where high crime rates and drugs were considered the norm. From a young age, I was determined to make it out the “hood.” My family’s transition to the suburbs and a full athletic scholarship to play Division One basketball was my ticket!
Currently I am a police officer armed with a Master’s Degree from Loyola University. I pride myself on my dual education, book smarts and street smarts. I believe my life experiences have made me more compassionate and I use my authority to affect positive change in the communities just like the one I grew up in.
What insecurities did you face growing up? How did you overcome them or how are you dealing with them today?
I've always been tall for my age, which proved to be a source of insecurity for me growing up. In grammar school, I hated being teased and beckoned to stand at the end of the 'shortest to tallest' line.
When I started dating in high school, I refused to wear heels. I knew they would make me taller than my date so I opted for flats instead. It wasn't until college that I started to wear heels. I started off with wedges then graduated to kitten pumps. Now I will wear 4 inch heels, without a second thought.
I use to be self-conscious about my height, you probably would be too if you stood 5'11 in socks, but since I can't change it, I've learned to embrace it. People use to tell me all the time "You're tall so you should play basketball or model." I would reply "Why can't I do them both?" And that is exactly what I did. If you saw me on the court, I would be hooping like a dude; but after the game you could catch me strutting out the locker room like I was on the runway.
We must learn to embrace ourselves fully. At the end of the day, there is only one you. You're special and we must never forget that!
What inspired you to write a book?
I was enrolled at Loyola during undergrad, taking a writing course. My class was given an assignment about how our past molds us into the person we are today.
Each student had to read their assignment to the class before we turned it in. I stood to my feet, went to the front of the class and read my assignment. After I read it, everyone stared at me with their mouths wide open. At that very moment, my professor asked if I had ever considered writing a book.
Before that point, I had not, but after seeing everyone’s reactions, I put pen to pad and started journaling. I have been writing since I was a little girl, but besides poetry contests I never shared my thoughts with anyone.
Once I completed the manuscript for the book, it sat in the corner and collected dust for almost two years. I did not think my life story was important enough to share. Growing up, I was taught "what happens in this house, stays in this house" and I did not want the rest of the world knowing my dirty laundry.
But at the end of the day, I decided that my book may help someone who may be experiencing something similar. Writing this book was very therapeutic for me, in that, I had the chance to release everything that I had been holding on to for so long. It was interesting to look back on my life story and see the patterns that had developed. It helped me become a better person, learn from my mistakes and make better decisions.
What are some things you want your readers to take away from your book?
The most important life lesson I learned was "don’t become a victim to your situation and do not allow your past to dictate your future." I want my readers to lose their victim mentality and realize they are survivors who have overcame great odds. Don't allow past hurt to keep you down. Instead use that pain as motivation. I believe wholeheartedly in the old saying “what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.”
What are some things you hope to accomplish before the end of 2016?
The end of 2016 is quickly approaching. I would like to focus my energy on marketing and distributing my book, My Life: The One He Never Got to Witness. I really believe that sharing my story will enhance lives.
I’ve also started a new business venture, my very own publishing company, Written Ambition Publishing. My goal is to close the year out with two new clients and help aspiring writers realize their dreams of becoming published authors. I have produced an audiobook for those who do not have time to read, but would prefer to listen. The audiobook is available on iTunes, Audible, and Amazon. And finally, I am currently working on the script for the movie I would like to produce. Seeing #MyLife as a movie is the next thing I want to check off my to-do list.
Amazing! Keep up with Cierra on Instagram @cierra.thurman and purchase her book on Amazon.