Skip to main content

‘We Are The Culture’ Chimer spotlight: Nicole Clarke

a person smiling at the camera

For Black History Month 2024, AfroChime, the Chimer Resource Group (CRG), whose mission is to uplift and nurture the Black community at Chime, crafted the month’s theme as We Are The Culture:

‘We Are The Culture’ centers on the vibrant tapestry of Black Culture and its profound global influence. We’ll explore the dynamic impact of the Black community on various aspects of our lives, from art and music to education and innovation.

In this piece, we explore the impact Nicole Clarke’s (she/her/hers) Blackness has had on her life. We dive into what her Black identity means to her, how she shares it with others, and how it impacts her approach to work.

“I define my Blackness as a journey — it evolves as I grow and move through different experiences,” says Nicole. There are so many different variations of this experience across the Black and African diaspora, such as the Caribbean, African American, and African cultures. “The core of my Blackness is Caribbean, and I have strong Jamaican roots — my parents were both born there and immigrated to the U.S. ”

A big part of Nicole’s Blackness and Jamaican culture boils down to (no pun intended) the food. In Jamaica, there’s a beach her family visits where a fish fry serves up local fish caught each morning. And, down the roadside, there’s often someone cutting down a coconut to serve it for its water. “In America, we talk a lot about farm-to-table, but in Jamaica, we eat from the land,” she says. “I always enjoy going back to Jamaica and having fresh, flavorful food while creating memories with family.”

Another part of Nicole’s Black identity is the way of life in Jamaica and a shared understanding of what’s really important: “It’s about not getting caught up in day-to-day stresses, but rather enjoying life, taking your time, and focusing on family,” she says. “Those values impact how we show up. We’re often relaxed, smiling, and enjoying. That’s something that, growing up as a Jamaican American, I’m really proud of.”

“Blackness is such a vast word that covers so many things. As my own journey continues and grows, so does my Blackness and the values it brings me.” — Nicole Clarke

Connecting with others

When it comes to making connections with others, Nicole relies on her own authenticity — being the same person she is outside of work while at work — and leaning in. “A lot of times, we can get in our own way when it comes to connecting with others in the workplace,” she says. “Whether we’re nervous to reach out to someone because of their seniority or we’re newer to a role, it can slow down making connections.”

Her advice to folks is to lean in. “Especially if you’re new to a job — or the workforce — take advantage of your first few months to meet a lot of people and use being new as a way in,” she says. “Connecting with others early on provides a learning opportunity for you and is a great way to accelerate your onboarding before your calendar fills up. Having those connections will also make you better at your job down the line.”

Bringing her Blackness to work

When she thinks about her Blackness and the values she brings to work because of it, Nicole cites helping others, challenging herself, representing, and being a mentor. “It’s really important to have representation and mentorship — as I’ve grown in my career, I’ve strived to be an example to someone else by being in the room and mentoring others,” she says. “I believe it’s a responsibility that comes with my Blackness to think about what and how I’m giving back to the community.”

Part of her community involvement has been being part of the Chimer Resource Group (CRG), AfroChime. “The AfroChime community is so welcoming and encouraged me to get involved; even being selected to share my story during this interview shows the impact you can have from day one,” she says.

Lifting as she climbs

“There’s a notion I subscribe to in my career of lifting others as you climb,” Nicole says. “I’ve had many mentors in my career — some of them very strong Black mentors — who will, to this day, go out of their way to give me advice or be a sounding board. I feel it’s my responsibility to pay that support forward, so I try to do that for others.”

To lift others as she climbs in her career, Nicole has been a high school mentor and supported junior colleagues at work. “I approach my life with a service mindset — whether it’s through my work in member support, my community at work, or the broader community,” she says. “That mindset comes from knowing that you can’t get there alone.”

After a recent visit to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, where she saw the Harriet Tubman exhibit, Nicole reflected on how Tubman risked her life to get others to freedom. “If everyone does their part, we can all accomplish more — together,” Nicole says. “I bring that idea with me to work — and life — every day.”