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Moving in Unexpected Spaces

Moving in Unexpected Spaces
Posted By: Reggie Culpepper on July 15, 2022

Content By:
Wendy E. John
Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Fidelity Investments

I trained as a ballerina for over 10 years. Surprised?

It’s true. Growing up on the Twin Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I spent a fair share of my afternoons moving across the wooden floors of Caribbean School of Dance, in front of mirrors and ballet barres, focusing on the graceful precision required to excel in the art form. For those who know, that means many rounds of grand jetes, pirouettes and arabesques...and hearing the same set music over and over again.

While my ballet days are a lesser-known fact about me, they do offer some insight into how our beliefs can shape what we might perceive about those around us – based on what we can or cannot see. I am often bemused by people’s reactions when it comes up casually in conversation.

I was exposed to ballet as a child, along with so many other diverse experiences, music, people, languages, cultures and religions. In fact, most of my friends – of all hues and backgrounds – did some form of dance, and there were young boys in some of my classes as well. That was my normal, and there was nothing unusual about it, to me. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and was introduced to the likes of Alvin Ailey, Debbie Allen and Arthur Mitchell that I started to understand that being Black carries a mythology of firstness that often excludes men and women who look like me. And it is myths like that I hope we continue to dispel as Black History Month gets underway, and throughout the year for that matter.

Each time we show up in unexpected spaces, we have an opportunity to redefine that space and what it means to those around us. Our mere presence can be the catalyst for change. We have an opportunity to chip away at the mythologies of “firstness” or “onliness” in order to leave a legacy that says, “this place is for you too.”


We are creating history every day and there is so much to celebrate. It’s an inside family joke that my youngest niece takes after me in many ways. Sometimes it’s a bit uncanny. Every time I get a chance to watch her dance with such tremendous grace and see the joy it brings her; it reminds me that how I show up in the spaces I occupy has the power to positively impact another’s future.

So, consider how you’re helping positively shift perceptions within the spaces you occupy. Whether it is through the example you set, allyship and advocacy, mentorship, or by providing access to opportunity, let’s commit to doing the slow, steady work of moving in unexpected spaces, with the grace to leave a legacy you’re proud of, and one that can create a lasting impact for all.

Discover more about Fidelity and our career opportunities HERE!

#fidelityassociate #diversity #inclusion #blackhistorymonth

Originally posted on LinkedIn on February 4, 2022:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/moving-unex...

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