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Obama's sick of the "conversation about race," too

Win McNamee / Getty Images

President Obama gave a eulogy Friday for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the South Carolina state senator and pastor who was killed, along with eight others, in a racially motivated June 17 mass shooting.

In his speech, he said, "Every time something like this happens somebody says we have to have a conversation about race. We talk a lot about race. There's no shortcut. We don't need more talk."

He was seemingly referring to the way nearly every time a story about racism — revelations that police officers let biases affect their work, data on shocking disparities, celebrities who late their hateful views slip — makes headlines, someone calls for a "national conversation on race" or a "dialogue on race."

That response is well-intended, but it's also frustrating, because so much of racial injustice is fueled by the policies and deeply held beliefs that fuel systemic racism — and debating the definition of "racist" (that's normally how the conversation goes) doesn't make those go away.

To many Americans and, evidently, to President Obama, the tragedy in Charleston is just the latest reminder.