A woman with black curly afro hair, cinnamon-colored skin, brown eyes, and a curvy body. To some of you — I described a black girl.

But really, I was describing myself. I am not black or African American. I was born on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Some would say I identify as Latina but I identify as an Afro-Latina — a term used to describe Latin Americans with African roots.

My great, great, great, great grandparents were brought from the African nation of Senegal to Puerto Rico as slaves. I have a light-skinned father and dark-skinned mother. I don’t have a light complexion nor do I have a dark complexion. I’m simply in the middle. So who am I?

I am a girl who has been busy making it known to the world that I’m not just black, I’m Puerto Rican.

I have distanced myself so far from my African roots that I didn’t even know February was Black History Month.

I think one of the reasons I barely knew about Black History Month is because of what I see as a recent decline in the interest of the month and the minimizing of it.

The Glenn Beck-run conservative website, The Blaze has advocated ending Black History Month because it divides America.

With a trend toward inclusivity in some areas of the news — whether it’s gender or size — Black History Month shouldn’t be lumped in it.

To all those people who think it is not important or it is time to end Black History Month: shame on you. Should we get rid of your birthday because it divides you from other people?

Black History Month is not meant to divide America. It’s meant to educate. It is also to celebrate how far we have come and how much we still have to achieve.

Some of the things I have learned is that the first black self-made millionaire was a woman named Madam C.J. Walker who made her fortune by developing a line of beauty products for black women through the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.

Sojourner Truth was an advocate for justice and equality in the U.S. during the 19th century. Edmonia Lewis was a black sculptor. The carbon filament light bulb was invented by the black inventor Lewis Howard Latimer. The first black open-heart surgeon was Daniel Hale Williams. Octavia E. Butler was a black science fiction writer.  

Carter G. Woodson was the man who lobbied extensively to establish Black History Month as a nationwide celebration.

This is black history. And this is important.

These accomplishments overcome me with so much emotion, and I am truly grateful to Black History Month for teaching and continuing to educate me and the upcoming generation of the accomplishments of our community.

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