How Ben & Jerry's Statement on Dismantling White Supremacy Fits in with the Founders' History of Activism
"The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy," Ben & Jerry's said in a statement
Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s recently made a clear and bold statement in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.
Floyd died in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while three others stood idly by. His death has led to nationwide protests against police brutality.
The officer involved, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with second-degree murder and the three other officers on the scene were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. None have entered a formal plea, and attorneys who might represent them have not come forward.
In their statement, titled “Silence Is NOT an Option,” Ben & Jerry’s called for dismantling white supremacy.
“All of us at Ben & Jerry’s are outraged about the murder of another Black person by Minneapolis police officers last week and the continued violent response by police against protestors,” the statement began.
The brand continued, detailing a tribute to Floyd: “We have to say his name: George Floyd. George Floyd was a son, a brother, a father, and a friend. The police officer who put his knee on George Floyd’s neck and the police officers who stood by and watched didn’t just murder George Floyd, they stole him. They stole him from his family and his friends, his church and his community, and from his own future.”
The statement also outlined four action items, calling on President Donald Trump, Congress and the Department of Justice to enact change.
Ben & Jerry’s co-founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, have long been vocal about social justice causes, both through their ice cream flavors and their own activism.
In September, they released an ice cream flavor, Justice Remix'd, that is dedicated to criminal justice reform. Earlier, in 2018, the company announced the flavor Pecan Resist, aimed at resisting the “regressive and discriminatory policies” of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Other socially conscious Ben & Jerry’s flavors include Save Our Swirled, aimed at bringing attention to climate change, and I Dough, I Dough, renamed in celebration of the legalization of same-sex marriage.
In 2016, Cohen and Greenfield were arrested as part of the “Democracy Awakening” protests on the U.S. Capitol steps in Washington, D.C. The pair, now both 69, were protesting against money in politics when they were arrested alongside other protestors.
That same year, the company publicly voiced its support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Unless and until white America is willing to collectively acknowledge its privilege, take responsibility for its past and the impact it has on the present, and commit to creating a future steeped in justice, the list of names that George Floyd has been added to will never end,” Ben & Jerry’s concluded in this week’s statement.
“We have to use this moment to accelerate our nation's long journey towards justice and a more perfect union.”
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
•National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.