While many brands have been criticised for weak or vague statements in response to the global protests about racial injustice, Ben & Jerry’s certainly can’t be accused of that.
The ice-cream company took a break from launching fun and quirky flavours to post a powerful statement calling for the dismantling of white supremacy.
‘The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy,’ reads a statement on the company website, which they also shared across social media platforms.
‘What happened to George Floyd was not the result of a bad apple; it was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning.’
They added that the ‘toxic seeds’ of racism were planted in America when the first enslaved people arrived on the continent in 1619, and went on to list the names of other black people who have been unjustly killed – including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin.
As well as calling for the officers involved in George Floyd’s killing to be brought to justice, the company says that everyone must take on the ‘complicated work’ of delivering justice for all the victims of violence and racism at the hands of the state.
Four years ago, Ben & Jerry’s publicly stated their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘Today, we want to be even more clear about the urgent need to take concrete steps to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms,’ they added.
The rest of the statement called for four direct actions:
It’s not what you might expect from a humble ice-cream brand, and the reaction online has been enormous.
‘Ben and Jerry’s had balls to use the words “BLACK” and “WHITE SUPREMACY” in their official corporate statement,’ wrote @SpeakerShinjini.
‘I don’t even like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream that much, but I might try it out more because I have newfound respect for a company that has the balls to call out truth.’
Others praised the company for being direct and not avoiding the difficult subject matter.
‘Unlike most companies and organizations, Ben & Jerry’s is not taking half measures or trying to post a generic, meaningless corporate statement about the death of George Floyd,’ added @NumbersMuncher.
‘They do not hold back in any way.’
‘Ben & Jerry’s didn’t send their prayers. They sent receipts and the chopper,’ said @JusAire.
‘This is the template for corporate responses going forward or they’re being disregarded.’
So take not big brands – this is how to use your platform to enact change, rather than posting something performative for clicks.
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