The Unilever-owned ice cream brand calls out "a culture of white supremacy" and calls for specific action, writes Addison Capper
Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's has experienced widespread praise for a statement it released on Tuesday in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The brand, which is a known and long-time supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, lays out "concrete steps to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms".
"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 says. "We have to speak out. We have to stand together with the victims of murder, marginalization, and repression because of their skin color, and with those who seek justice through protests across our country. We have to say his name: George Floyd."
The statement lays the murder of George Floyd as "the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy".
"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," it continues. "What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is the fruit borne of toxic seeds planted on the shores of our country in Jamestown in 1619, when the first enslaved men and women arrived on this continent. Floyd is the latest in a long list of names that stretches back to that time and that shore. Some of those names we know — Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. — most we don’t."
Ben and Jerry's goes on to call for four specific actions to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms. They are:
"First, we call upon President Trump, elected officials, and political parties to commit our nation to a formal process of healing and reconciliation. Instead of calling for the use of aggressive tactics on protestors, the President must take the first step by disavowing white supremacists and nationalist groups that overtly support him, and by not using his Twitter feed to promote and normalize their ideas and agendas. The world is watching America’s response.
"Second, we call upon the Congress to pass H.R. 40, legislation that would create a commission to study the effects of slavery and discrimination from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies. We cannot move forward together as a nation until we begin to grapple with the sins of our past. Slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation were systems of legalized and monetized white supremacy for which generations of Black and Brown people paid an immeasurable price. That cost must be acknowledged and the privilege that accrued to some at the expense of others must be reckoned with and redressed.
"Third, we support Floyd’s family’s call to create a national task force that would draft bipartisan legislation aimed at ending racial violence and increasing police accountability. We can’t continue to fund a criminal justice system that perpetuates mass incarceration while at the same time threatens the lives of a whole segment of the population.
"And finally, we call on the Department of Justice to reinvigorate its Civil Rights Division as a staunch defender of the rights of Black and Brown people. The DOJ must also reinstate policies rolled back under the Trump Administration, such as consent decrees to curb police abuses."
The brand's pointed approach prompted a wave of praise on social media, while other businesses were being called out for virtue signalling.
Ben and Jerry's is a Unilever-owned brand with a history of supporting social issues - a list of related stories to the George Floyd statement on the brand's website includes 'We Stand in Support of H.R. 40 and Reparations for African Americans', '7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real' and 'From Slavery to Mass Incarceration'. It has been a public supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement since it was founded in 2016 when it launched this statement