I cannot tell you how happy I am to return to my favorite subject: talking about Ben & Jerry’s.
In June 2020, while other corporate brands made vague statements on equality, iconic ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s showed what being a socially responsible business really looks like: Instead of just making a statement, they released an entire plan to dismantle white supremacy.
In the wake of the attempted coup by a pro-Trump mob at the U.S. Capitol, Ben & Jerry’s is back, with a Twitter thread about what happened in D.C. while calling for the resignation or impeachment or removal from office of Donald Trump:
Yesterday was not a protest—it was a riot to uphold white supremacy.
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) January 7, 2021
The full text reads:
Yesterday was not a protest—it was a riot to uphold white supremacy. It was allowed to happen. The mostly white insurrectionists roamed freely and without consequence through the heart of our democracy. The only explanation is that this was allowed to happen because they were white—not Black, Brown or Indigenous people. The white mob that made its way to the dais of the US House of Representatives and the Senate, literally sitting in the chair the vice president had been in minutes before, is the ultimate embodiment of white privilege.
We saw two Americas yesterday. In one America we saw record voter turnout driven by Black voters that resulted in the election of the first Black and first Jewish senators from the state of Georgia—our democracy at its best. In the second America we saw a mostly white mob, encouraged by the president, violently invade the seat of our democracy in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election. It was a failed coup—our democracy in peril.
Both of these Americas are us. Black and Brown people have long understood this. They’ve been exposed to the white tyranny that was on full display at yesterday’s riot since the founding of our nation. It’s the double standard that undergirds white supremacy in our nation. Both of these Americas are us. How we respond to the events of yesterday will determine which America we will be. Resign, impeach, 25th Amendment… not one more day.
Hot DAMN, Ben & Jerry’s! This statement is stronger than most statements put out by our elected officials. Their slogan is “Peace, Love & Ice Cream,” but it should really be “Peace, Love, Condemning White Supremacy…. & Ice Cream,” no?
Ben & Jerry’s was founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont by Jewish friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. In building their ice cream company, they consciously chose to make it a socially responsible business. As Ben explained in 1994, “It’s a business that cares about people, that seeks to use its power to improve the quality of life within society. It seeks profits and tries to integrate spiritual and social concerns into day-to-day activities. Typical businesses tend to do everything in terms of narrow self-interest. They want to maximize profitability and quality. We add a third factor: impact on the community, on the consumer, on our employees.”
We want to draw attention to their conception of two Americas, in particular: “In one America we saw record voter turnout driven by Black voters that resulted in the election of the first Black and first Jewish senators from the state of Georgia—our democracy at its best,” they write. “In the second America we saw a mostly white mob, encouraged by the president, violently invade the seat of our democracy in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election.”
How do we reconcile the joy of the election of Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the Senate, with the terror of watching a mob storm the U.S. Capitol? We are still searching for the answers, but all we know: This is America. Its history of white supremacy is beyond reprehensible, and yet — and yet! — the fact that a Black man and a Jewish man will be representing the southern state of Georgia is a big deal that fills us with hope.
We’ll be thinking about this for a long time to come (while eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, of course).