Monday, January 07, 2008

Jazzing up snail mail with Black Heritage and other stamps

Despite my love of almost all things technology-related (spam and e-mails spreading urban legends being notable exceptions) I write a lot of letters, thank you cards and other missives that require the use of the US Postal Service (USPS).
So as a frequent stamp buyer, I was excited to note in the lobby of a local post office a poster for new stamps in the Black Heritage Commemorative Stamp series. These highlight African American achievers and achievements. Despite the urban legend spam that gets resurrected every few months, these are not being discontinued. There's even a sidebar on the USPS page that refutes the legend, saying, "The fact is that the Black Heritage stamp series is one of our most popular. We have no plans whatsoever to discontinue it." Yay!

According to the stamp poster I saw, there's a new series highlighting Black Scientists. Lovely! No, I don't have any particular affinity for science. I'm just glad there's something out there celebrating Black culture that doesn't feature Chingy, T-Pain, Lil' Wayne, Beyoncé or some other entertainment figure. Though I do like Beyoncé and have been known to hum along to a Chingy hook when I'm alone in the car.
So why the science stamp excitement? Because it shows Black achievers in a mainstream and academically rigorous context. For people who don't actually know many (or any) Black people, or who don't live in close proximity to any, or who only see those from a particular socio-economic group, pop culture is their only exposure to African Americans. And pop culture mainly spews imagery that highlights a very limited number of Black people as achievers. Usually it includes those in sports or entertainment, and mainly those of the grill wearing, bling encrusted, hip swaying, or sport playing type. Nothing specifally against any of those per se (okay, I'm anti "grills." These are your teeth people!), but it's a very limited and distorted view of Black people.

Unfortunately, I couldn't buy one of these stamps to show my love because the postal worker informed me they weren't out yet, even though the poster says "available in January." Apparently it should read "late January" or "January-ish" or "Maybe in time for February. That's Black History month anyway, right?" I will refrain from inserting a CP-time crack here.

So I got pretty flowered stamps and colorful Kwanza stamps instead. But there's an even better option out there for jazzing up mailings: personalized stamps. You can put your own picture on real postage stamps. How cool is that?! For info on any of these, try the links below. I haven't used any of them, but Zazzle seems to have the most stamp sizes and text options to choose from. Happy mailing!

Black Heritage Stamps

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