The USPS has a disappointingly negative connotation in popular culture – the phrase “going postal” is especially potent. But as I have progressed in this project (and bought oh so many different kinds of stamps), I’ve noticed how inclusive and well-rounded the postal service is in their selection of stamp themes and subjects. I’ve tried to highlight some examples of these, including their celebration of Dorothy Height, an educator and civil rights advocate, and Harvey Milk, an LGBTQ political pioneer and icon in the queer community.
I stumbled upon this stamp, a dedication to the Special Olympics, and found it particularly stirring. The disabled community is, in my non-expert opinion, one of the most invisible minorities in the country (and, arguably, the world). I have a personal, deep empathy for people with disabilities, and get so angry at their lack of representation in almost all aspects of life. This has been on my mind even more so recently: with health care in jeopardy, the challenges the disabled face are likely to exacerbate. The Special Olympics (not to be confused with the Paralympics) is a conglomerate of worldwide sporting events dedicated specifically to adults and children with intellectual disabilities such as autism and cerebral palsy. This stamp gives hundreds of thousands of people who might otherwise not know much about the Special Olympics a chance to learn, and an opportunity to honor the institution and its important participants.
On the website of the USPS, the 2015 event is described in more detail: “More than half a million spectators enjoyed nine days of challenging and inspiring international competition as more than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries competed in 25 Olympic-type sports. It was the first time the Special Olympics World Summer Games have been held in the United States since 1999.”
Representation matters. It allows people to get used to those that may be different from them, and it increases awareness and respect for people that face life in a way that is so much more difficult than the lives of those without disabilities. In this time of political chaos, we can’t forget about the people that face incredible obstacles on a daily basis. I know that a stamp isn’t going to lead to groundbreaking changes, but it does give some visibility to the Special Olympics and those that work hard to partake. It’s a start.