Since President Obama delivered his remarks responding to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, there’s been talk about a national conversation on race. Let’s be clear about what Obama did and didn’t call for.

“There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race,” he said. “I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have. On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.”

In short, he held out no hope for a conversation on race led by himself or any other elected official. As for conversations in smaller, private forums—well, he wasn’t optimistic about that idea either, but there was a bare “possibility” some might prove marginally beneficial. His bottom line: “at least” you can have a conversation with yourself.