Rising: From a Mud Hut to the Boardroom — and Back Again (Hardcover)
An identity that spans the globe.
In this astonishing memoir, Graci Harkema revisits her experience growing up as an adoptee from the Congo in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She traces her path to claiming and living her own story, becoming a successful consultant on diversity, equity and inclusion, racial justice, LGBTQ+ equality, and women in business.
Born amid civil unrest in a mud hut in the Congo and weighing a mere three pounds, Harkema was left at an orphanage, where she was not expected to live another day. But that afternoon, a visiting American missionary saw her sleeping in a doll’s bed and heard a voice inside her say, “This is your daughter.”
Her childhood was spent wishing to be lighter and blonder, like her siblings and classmates. Out of fear of standing out even more from her peers, Harkema kept her sexuality a secret, only coming out of the closet years later—during a job interview! Eventually, she learned to see her identity as her superpower, instead of her shame.
Today, Harkema helps embrace diversity and drive inclusion to ensure open and safe work environments. She is committed to empowering employees to perform to their potential as their authentic selves—setting an example as she continues to live her own story, journeying to meet her birth mother, to discover one more piece of herself.
“An inspiring memoir of self-discovery, identity, and embracing your own path.”
BookLife (Publishers Weekly)
"A solid remembrance that offers the engaging perspective of a diversity and inclusion expert."
"Rising equips its audience with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement changes and work toward inclusive workplaces."
“A riveting and heart-wrenching memoir. Graci Harkema brilliantly and generously shows us how to unapologetically and fiercely be our true selves.”
Rhonda M. Roorda, award-winning author, In Their Voices; consultant to the NBC television series This Is Us
“Graci Harkema truly embodies what it means not only to awaken but to ‘rise.’ In this incredible book, she utilizes all the deep wisdom culled from her journey to true authenticity to spread her urgent message of inclusion.”
Jennifer Brown, founder/CEO, Jennifer Brown Consulting; bestselling author, Inclusion, Beyond Diversity, and How to Be an Inclusive Leader
“Graci Harkema provides deep insights into her miraculous life. This book serves as a reminder that liberation can come from living in our truths.”
Janice Gassam Asare, PhD, writer and DEI consultant
“Part memoir, part self-help, and part DEI training, Rising holds up a mirror and asks us to see our own truth as Graci Harkema reveals hers.”
Stef Ziev, author, The Choice Is Yours
“An incredible journey. Truly a story of love, success, and perseverance.”
Doug Meijer, co-chairman, Meijer
“Rising requires more than one read. The first time, you’ll read with your mouth open. The second time, you’ll open your mind.”
Chris Brogan, New York Times–bestselling author, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth