Anyone who reads my writing knows that I am pretty stringently anti-corporatist. For moral, ethical, and philosophical reasons, I do my best to avoid companies who have known human rights disputes, public failures to take responsibility for the ways they contribute to the exploitation of marginalized people, and ongoing issues with honesty, fairness, and justice for their lower level employees. Ben & Jerry’s isn’t one of the corporations.
Recently, the niche ice cream producer has come under fire for publicly supporting the Movement for Black Lives. They posted an article on their site called “Why Black Lives Matter.” The statement starts by saying:
Black lives matter.
They matter because they are children, brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers.
They matter because the injustices they face steal from all of us — white people and people of color alike. They steal our very humanity.
Systemic and institutionalized racism are the defining civil rights and social justice issues of our time. We’ve come to understand that to be silent about the violence and threats to the lives and well-being of Black people is to be complicit in that violence and those threats.
We ask you to join us in not being complicit.
Over the weekend, I stumbled across an article they had up on their blog called “7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism is Real.” In it, they attempt to debunk the idea that America is “postracial” by discussing the many ways racism has been embedded in every facet of life. They explain that employment, Healthcare, and most other aspects of public life show the inequalities and disparately negative effects on Black Americans. Most importantly, B&J encourage their consumers and fans to learn about their own issues with implicit bias, go talk to their friends and family about the topic, and, generally, just do better.
The interesting thing about their corporate activism on behalf of Black Americans is that their business model doesn’t require it. Most people will still buy Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Blondie Ambition ice cream no matter what Ben & Jerry’s does with their public persona. Meanwhile, corporations for whom their activism is directly linked to the financial and social outcomes of many in communities of color seem much less inclined to take a stand on such an important issue as Black Lives Matter.
Read the full article at Water Cooler Convos.