Ben & Jerry's has stepped off the sideline and weighed in on one of the most contentious issues affecting America today: the Black Lives Matter movement. In a statement posted online, the beloved Vermont-based ice cream purveyor officially declared its support for the cause.
"Systemic and institutionalized racism are the defining civil rights and social justice issues of our time," the statement reads. "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."
The statement specifically references the recent police officer-involved shooting death of an African-American man in Charlotte, which sparked days of protests. It links to a separate landing page on Ben & Jerry’s website titled "7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real." It goes on to clarify "that saying black lives matter is not to say that the lives of those who serve in the law enforcement community don’t," and offers a response to those who disagree: "All lives do matter. But all lives will not matter until black lives matter."
The statement, which Ben & Jerry’s posted on Twitter and Facebook, has sparked heated discussion. Some social media users have responded with messages of support for the company, but many have derided the statement and expressed plans to boycott the ice cream manufacturer.
It may be bold for a corporate brand to make such a social statement, but Ben & Jerry’s has a history of championing stances that generally align with progressive politics. The company has released ice cream flavors meant to celebrate marriage equality and raise awareness about climate change. In January, Ben & Jerry’s threw its support behind Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders with a limited-edition flavor called Bernie’s Yearning.
• Why Black Lives Matter. [Official]