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Nicole Cyrus

Leaning In with Alex P. Keaton

Illustration by Zach Meyer

Nicole Cyrus | Longreads | December 2019 | 10 minutes (2,713 words)


In the ’80s, I was a scrappy black teenage girl determined to solve for x in this equation:

buppie = a young upwardly mobile black professional
buppie + ambition = a black professional hungry for opportunity
buppie + ambition + x = a black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company

A week after I turned 16, I called my mother into the kitchen for a meeting. I was running a personal campaign to become an international business tycoon from my family’s ranch home near Washington, D.C. My mother, a registered nurse, had volunteered to be my assistant. She sat with her hands folded on the wooden table, awaiting instructions.
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