Zimmerman Verdict: 5 Confused Reactions

Everyone weighed in. Not everyone -- even those who meant well -- made sense.

Not to mention, if someone were actually prepared to go run through the streets and cause havoc after the verdict, it’s safe to say that your public hand-wringing, passionate as it may have been, probably wouldn’t have defused the tension enough to stop that person.

4. Obama has to say something to fix this.

Listen. The president has been charged with fixing a lot of things, but undoing a decision of this kind isn’t on the list. As The Root’s David Swerdlick put it:

[N]o matter how demoralizing the trial’s result was, President Obama — the nation’s dad, if you will — doesn’t have the option of disrespecting the jury’s verdict, duly rendered, even if the trial that we all just saw couldn’t provide justice after the needless killing of a teenage boy. And any statement that the president makes now could later be seen to prejudice, and thus weaken, any case that the Justice Department might pursue.

Removing racism from the nation’s psyche isn’t on his official agenda, either. (Plus, don’t you think he did what he could to move things forward by getting elected in the first place?)

If you want to put pressure on a black politician, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is your guy.

5. This calls for a national dialogue on race.

This is perhaps the most sincere and the emptiest of the reactions, often said with about the same level of intention as “Yeah, we should do lunch.” 

Really, though, what does it even mean? “Race” is pretty broad as a topic. It’s fascinating. We talk about it all the time! There’s a whole conference on it. But “race” doesn’t describe what happened here. It’s not specific enough. Race isn’t racism. Race isn’t racial profiling. Race isn’t a kid getting killed because he was black, or making sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Plus, “national dialogue” suggests that everyone gets to weigh in and everyone’s opinion, no matter how uninformed or harmful, is equally valid. I disagree. In fact, it’s clearer than ever that some people just need to listen.

Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root’s staff writer and White House correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.