|By Kenan Malik|
The transformation has been bewilderingly swift. Six years ago, most Americans thought that police killings of black suspects were “isolated events”. Now, three out of four accept that there exists a systemic problem. Support for Black Lives Matter has risen more in the past two weeks than over the past two years. And far from feeding Donald Trump’s base, the flames consuming US cities have diminished the stature of the president while, so far, not exacerbating the polarisation of the nation.
The attitudes not just of the public but of major institutions, too, have metamorphosed. The NFL, which for the past four years has condemned players “taking the knee” to the national anthem in protest at racist killings, now acknowledges it was wrong. Nascar, that most Trumpian of US sports, has banned Confederate flags. Corporation after corporation has publicly affirmed support for Black Lives Matter.
In Britain, too, the ground has shifted. From nationwide mass protests to a new national conversation about statues and history, from footballers and politicians taking the knee, to Yorkshire Tea telling a critic of Black Lives Matter “Please don’t buy our tea again”, public life seems irrevocably changed. When demonstrators toppled the statue of slaver Edward Colston in Bristol, only a minority of Britons supported their actions. A majority, however, thought the statue should be taken down legally, something unimaginable even a few months ago.
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