There is no doubt that there has been a thickness in the air over the past weeks for anyone that has been following popular culture and legal matters. The world has been waiting for the decision on whether or not George Zimmerman was guilty of murder or had acted within reason or threat to personal safety in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The case, which has been unnecessarily tinged with the disgusting brush of racism has become much bigger than Zimmerman himself. Suddenly, the man on trial who shot a young African American teenager was the poster child for all things racially discriminating in this world, a title (arguably) that was highly unwarranted. While some waited in hopes of a guilty verdict in a case that was slim on actual evidence, others waited simply to see what the reaction would be from those who had vested their time and heart in watching the case.

Zimmerman was found not guilty on all counts and, with the verdict in, became a free man once again. With an emotionless demeanor, he accepted the verdict without cheer, sneer, or smile. The man who had been on trial for more than just murder but, rather, to prove himself not a racist can now enter back into society, albeit that his life will never be the same.

The verdict of not guilty was flashed on television screens and newspaper headlines around the world. Social media sparked with the excitement of a verdict, many in the African American and younger demographic highly dismayed by what they saw. Eyes turned to the television for a glimpse of the Florida courthouse grounds, waiting and watching to see if violence erupted; the violence never came. Instead, it was in California where the world saw a small group of protestors go a bit too far in their expression of the first amendment, destroying property and even burning the flag of the United States. Overall, though, the protests have been passionate and peaceful.

The Zimmerman case has brought to the forefront of our nation the deep divide that remains between races. There is this gotcha mentality among both whites and minorities to say, “Gotcha…you’re a racist” before any evidence is presented to prove that true. I am not sure why Zimmerman got the wrap of racist when the focus should have been on whether or not he had the tag of murderer first and foremost. Again, there was no clear evidence to suggest this man–an ethnic minority himself–was racist. Possibly a murderer? Maybe. Was the evidence sound? No. But, he was labeled racist and the stigma will not soon wear off, no matter what the truth is.

In essence, we are so quick to judge and label in this country not only minorities or those that do not fit the perceived status quo, but we are also quick to assume that someone’s actions are discriminatory without ever looking at the person themselves and the motive behind the actions. Both cases are wrong, both instances shameful, but we are still a nation that can be divided quickly and become so entrenched that true dialogue is hindered.