For more than 100 years African-Americans have been able to find work at the post office. Those days are numbered.
Something you’ve probably not considered while sending hundreds of emails day after day and week after week is what impact your digital correspondence is having on the United States Postal Service. With so much email flying through the Internet via computers, tablets, and phones, tangible letters are fast becoming a thing of the past, and with their decline goes the decline of post offices.
The USPS recently announced a plan to shutter almost 4,000 post offices around the country. Though that will impact every American trying to send out an old-fashioned birthday card, Black Americans especially should be wary of the closings—there goes a lot of jobs held by African-Americans.
Blacks have been doing postal work for over a century now, since Emancipation and the end of the Civil War opened up work at the postal service for them. By 1970, according to a new article in the New York Daily News, African-Americans made up 20 percent of the postal workforce, and they were twice as likely as whites to be postal employees. Like other government work, which opened up to Blacks before prejudiced careers in the private sector, postal work was a good, stable path to the middle class for many African-Americans. With so many post offices set to close—and with 5,000 jobs set to go with them—this is going to be a major blow to the Black community.
We’ve told you before on these very pages that African-Americans are losing jobs and staying unemployed at record rates. This latest news only adds to that already disturbing trend. If you can, you should go out into your community and fight against the closure of your local post offices (residents in the Bronx have already staged protests against the closings). If you can’t get out there and make your voice heard, you should at least remember that even though you may not have sent a letter in years, the benefits of people being employed at the post office may have been contributing to your community in ways you’d never even recognized.
Unfortunately, it seems that the title of Philip F. Rubio's book, There's Always Work at the Post Office: African-American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice and Equality, may not be as true as it once was.
(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)