On May 5, 1978, two hippies named Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened a small ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont. Twenty-three years later, they sold it to multi-billion dollar conglomerate Unilever for a tidy $326 million. The money isn’t the most impressive part of this story, though: Ben and Jerry sold their company, but they didn’t sell their souls, and didn’t sell out their ethics.
One of the conditions of the sale was that the brand would retain a completely independent board of directors which, according to the company’s website, is committed to “preserving and expanding Ben & Jerry’s social mission, brand integrity and product quality, by providing social mission-mindful insight and guidance to ensure we’re making the best ice cream possible in the best way possible.”
In fact, that very website is kinda about ice cream, but mostly about social justice. Ben and Jerry are the Kings of the Hippies, using a capitalist system to inject millions of dollars into righteous causes, reforming the workplace, and using ice cream to lure people into progressivism. Ben and Jerry have been playing four-dimensional chess with whipped cream and sprinkles, and we have no choice but to stan with every fiber of our beings.
Ben & Jerry’s has used its website to engage and mobilize their customers on topics such as Citizens United, the refugee crisis, climate change, and systemic racism. It should come as absolutely no surprise that it once again is setting the bar for how companies should react in the face of injustice, releasing a statement that it did not come to offer thoughts and prayers, but to demand solutions, and offered a four point plan:
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.
What is left to say here? Ben & Jerry’s is the fucking best. I’m going to pick up a few pints of Chubby Hubby to share with my fellow protestors next time I march. And if you can’t take to the streets to fight for justice, visit our sister site Lifehacker for a list of places to donate to fund the fight for racial and social justice.