It was very kind of the President to phone me today. Vernon Jordan is absolutely correct: my unfortunate experience will only have a larger meaning if we can all use this to diminish racial profiling and to enhance fairness and equity in the criminal justice system for poor people and for people of color.Now, let's think about this. What if everyone followed this Larger Meaning Doctrine? Something happens to an individual, and he could drop it or apologize or look into the particular details of the case, but instead he insists that his experience should represent some big problem in the world that people ought to be concerned about, that his case should be the jumping off point for something much more general, so that his problem isn't wasted but yields Larger Meaning for us all. Imagine how annoying that would be! And now think about how you'd react if these Larger Meaning adherents also topped off their demands by declaring "this is not about me."
And to that end, I look forward to studying the history of racial profiling in a new documentary for PBS....
If my experience leads to the lessening of the occurrence of racial profiling, then I would find that enormously gratifying. Because, in the end, this is not about me at all; it is about the creation of a society in which 'equal justice before law' is a lived reality.
I, for one, would probably freak out, cause a scene, prompt a neighbor to call the cops, get arrested for disorderly conduct, and... well, this is not about me but my unfortunate experience will only have a larger meaning if we can all use this to diminish the baneful effects of the Larger Meaning Doctrine.