Georgina Diedhou. (Photo by Jonathan Custodio\/Latino Rebels) Georgina Diedhou had a rough time growing up. Her father immigrated to Mexico from Senegal and met her mother in Mexico City, who was born and raised in Puebla. Diedhou has dual Mexican and Senegalese citizenship. Though she\u2019s encountered many who reduced her negritude to her Senegalese background, the 29-year-old is quick to point out that her grandmother hails from Litzma de Tehautepec, a mostly Afro-Mexican town in the southern state of Oaxaca, which has the second-highest percentage of the afro-descendant demographic in the country. At a time when local activists\u00a0take to the streets\u00a0to fight for the protection of women, she believes that her struggles are representative of what black women face in Mexican society\u2014and has dedicated herself to educating the community in order to fight back. Diedhou works with the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED) and has spent the last 7 years developing courses, workshops, and conferences to better educate the masses on topics of discrimination, including rights\u2019 violations, racial profiling, racism, xenophobia, racial segregation, Anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, lesbophobia, and other systems of oppression. Facing Bullying and Anti-Blackness \u201cWhat most affected me was the bullying when I was a girl,\u201d Diedhou told\u00a0Latino USAabout her experiences growing up. Along with her three sisters, she went to a Franco-Mexican primary school on a scholarship. \u201cIt\u2019s a school where there are only children of political officials and powerful people in the country. My parents only spent on materials, book bags, clothes, food and transportation,\u201d she explained. The bullying entailed a combination of racial and physical violence. \u201cThere, violence had to do with skin color: punches, putting your stuff in the trash, pushing you, threatening you. And all from a vision of \u2018it\u2019s because you\u2019re black. You deserve it; you\u2019re a slave.\u2019 After years of violence as a girl, it affects you so much that you return that same violence to defend yourself,\u201d she recalled. She and her siblings ended up losing their scholarships due to Mexico\u2019s economic crisis in the\u00a0mid-1990s, which was tied to the Mexican government\u2019s abrupt devaluation of the Mexican peso versus the U.S. dollar. Coupled with national political disarray, including the assassination of a\u00a01994 presidential candidate, foreign investors shied away from the country as an asset. Though her time at the school was done, the trauma had only just begun. At only 9 years old, Diedhou began to be hyper-sexualized and assaulted by teenage boys and older men. \u201cI had the body of a woman as a 9-year-old girl. Here in Mexico, there is a culture of assault and hyper-sexualization. Adults follow you and tell you obscenities in the street,\u201d she said. Sexual Abuse in Mexico Data from Mexico\u2019s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) shows that 25 percent of women have suffered sexual abuse before turning 18-years-old and according to a\u00a0Brain-Gallup poll, approximately 46 percent of Mexican women say they have been sexually assaulted. Diedhou believes it\u2019s worst for black women. \u201c \u2018Oh, of course, she\u2019s a fiery black woman , a black woman that deserves it, and a black woman that will facilitate services or sexual goals.\u2019 From a misogynist or machismo vision, how many men carry themselves in Mexico, it\u2019s like \u2018I\u2019ve never thrown around a black woman before\u2014well, I deserve to live that experience.\u2019 So, to have sex with a black woman is different because they exoticize you,\u201d she said. The culture of the hyper-sexualization and sexual harassment of women often expands to other forms of gender violence. According to Mexico\u2019s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI),\u00a043 percent of women\u00a0over 15-years-old have suffered abuse from their partners,\u00a053 percent\u00a0have suffered violence at the hands of strangers, and\u00a066 percent\u00a0have confronted some form of sexual, physical, emotional, or economic violence. For Diedhou, the treatment didn\u2019t stop once she grew into adulthood. \u201cIn high school and college, it was the same. From teachers who assault you to students who assault you in the street,\u201d said Diedhou, who also notes that the objectification and abuse was accompanied by discrimination in the classroom. \u201cAt the university, it was \u2018if you don\u2019t take off what you have on your head, you\u2019re not entering my class.\u2019 my red braids. That was my first confrontation with my psychology professor,\u201d she said. \u201cDreadlocks are dirty, a symbol of dirt and abandonment,\u201d she remembers him saying. When Diedhou began looking for a job to help pay for school, she continued to be subjected to discrimination based on her hair. She interviewed for a job to as a receptionist at a spa and recalls the employer telling her, \u201cYes, I\u2019ll hire you but take that off your head. It\u2019s kind of dirty. It\u2019s a bad image for business.\u201d She denied to do this, saying, \u201cI\u2019m sorry, but no. This is my natural hair. No.\u201d She didn\u2019t get the job. Rosa Mar\u00eda Castro, director of the Women\u2019s Association on the Coast of Oaxaca, an organization that holds both local and national forums and conferences geared towards equality for Mexican women, says it\u2019s difficult for women to think about anything other than survival after a traumatic experience. \u201cTheir priority is to survive that violence. It\u2019s not to study. It\u2019s not to work. If proper attention is not received, women remain stuck and stop having aspirations,\u201d Castro said. Historically Ignored At the moment, there is a movement of women in Mexico who have taken to the streets to fight against sexual assault and harassment after several policemen were accused of raping teenage girls on\u00a0two separate\u00a0instances. Author Eren Cervantes-Altamirano noted on Twitter that often it is indigenous and Afro-Mexican women who are targeted by violence. \u201cOne cannot forget that the women most commonly raped, disappeared, and killed are those living at the intersections of poverty, youth, Indigeneity, trans identities, queerness,\u201d Cervantes-Altamirano tweeted, before noting the recent murder of Carmela Parra Santos, a local Afro-Mexican municipal leader. https:\/\/twitter.com\/ErenArruna\/status\/1163829794208808960?s20 Though Dieghou acknowledges that there are many others who can speak to the topic, Diedhou feels that the Afro-Mexican community has been historically ignored and that change does not happen without obstinate persistence\u2014a belief that drives her work. \u201cThere are many people who are Afro and they don\u2019t know it. They think that they\u2019re brown or black because the sun hit them or because that\u2019s how they were born; that it\u2019s something in the genetics but nothing more,\u201d said Diedhou, who is firm in her own identity. \u201cI\u2019m black before whatever else,\u201d she affirmed. *** Jonathan\u00a0Custodio is a freelance journalist based out of The Bronx. He has reported on race and identity in M\u00e9xico for the Pulitzer Center and has covered hyperlocal issues in the Northwest section of The Bronx for the Norwood News. He is currently finishing his B.A. in Journalism at Lehman College.