From Hadisa to US

"Don’t be afraid to be different"

My name is Hadisa Suleyman, I’m a real estate agent and a motivational speaker.

I ‘m the daughter of a Ghanaian father and a Belgian mother.

In my childhood I grew up in Ghent with my mother and during my teenagers’ years with my father. My journey hasn’t been easy. I’ve never been that quiet girl in the back of the class, I’m a fighter and that’s what made me the person who I am today. I got thrown out of school a couple of times. In some cases, if you have that type of journey in school your life is blocked, not mine!

One incident changed my point of view for good.

I remember going to pick up my younger brother from school and we were at the bus stop. At this bus stop, a few people were passing by and shouted that those bus stops are for niggers. Then you realize you're different. Not necessarily by skin-color but also by origins.

My consciousness came when I was about 17 years old. Then I started seeing being different as an asset. I went to the “’Vlaamse Examencommissie” to finish high school and afterwards I studied real estate at Syntra and started my professional career.

Doing business as a person with migration has of course it obstacles. I often hear negative things about foreigners. People who have their opinion or views on how immigrants should be. I also have my own prejudices, but I think people have to be able to get rid of them, you always have to give people the benefit of the doubt. When I was young, I used to argue a lot when I heard something negative. Whereas now I have something like: “that discussion is pointless because I can't prove them otherwise with my words”. The only thing I can do is be an example for people who think "ok blacks are like that", or "people who grew up there are like that". That "no I'm ok, I can just do business". That's how I try to do it and despite all the negativity, I was able to make it as a real estate agent. I think that you have to fight and have character, not just because you're black! Because you have the right mindset, and nothing can stop you! Your ability to catch on things makes you stronger.

People discriminate because they are scared about the things they don’t know and because they might be unhappy and blame someone else for that. At one point, the West has known great prosperity. They thought that if they had a nice car, a big house, they would be happy. I think there are a lot of people who have that but aren’t happy and then they look for a scapegoat and those are the migrants or people with a migration background. People migrate because they’re looking for a better life and we have to understand that.

My final message to the people is: you can always fall back on the negative view.

Your origin and skin colour make you different and I see that as a positive point, because you are different from the rest. Being different can be a key to success, but that's not taught in school. People don't know how to be different anymore and that they're allowed to do so. Don’t be afraid to be different, use your talents and find your purpose in life!

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