“All Lives Will Not Matter Until Black Lives Matter.” Ben and Jerry’s On Black Lives Matter Movement

October 7, 2016  |  

These days, in the quest to empower the Black community and support those who support us, quite a few Black folk are being very careful about how they spend their money. But in case you’re wondering which companies are really out here riding for Black folk, I would direct your attention to the ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s.

In a recent statement posted to their website, the company unequivocally expressed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

First, they explained, for those in the back who refuse to get it, why Black Lives Matter.

Why Black lives matter:

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.

Then they issued a call to action.

We ask you to join us in not being complicit.

There is good news: the first step in overcoming systemic racism and injustice is to simply understand and admit that there is a problem. It’s trying to understand the perspective of others whose experiences are different from our own. To not just listen, but to truly understand those whose struggle for justice is real, and not yet complete.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina NAACP, said it best when reacting to the recent police shooting in Charlotte, NC. He said, “Our objective is simple: to ensure justice-loving people act toward justice, with all evidence, and that we stand together and act from a place of power and love, rather than out of fear and anger.”

It’s been hard to watch the list of unarmed Black Americans killed by law enforcement officers grow longer and longer. We understand that numerous Black Americans and white Americans have profoundly different experiences and outcomes with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. That’s why it’s become clear to us at Ben & Jerry’s that we have a moral obligation to take a stand now for justice and for Black lives.

We want to be clear: we believe that saying Black lives matter is not to say that the lives of those who serve in the law enforcement community don’t. We respect and value the commitment to our communities that those in law enforcement make, and we respect the value of every one of their lives.
But we do believe that — whether Black, brown, white, or blue — our nation and our very way of life is dependent on the principle of all people being served equal justice under the law. And it’s clear, the effects of the criminal justice system are not color blind.

We do not place the blame for this on individual officers. Rather, we believe it is due to the systemic racism built into the fabric of our institutions at every level, disadvantaging and discriminating against people of color in ways that go beyond individual intent to discriminate. For this reason, we are not pointing fingers at individuals; we are instead urging us to come together to better our society and institutions so that we may finally fulfill the founding promise of this country: to be a country with dignity and justice for all.

All lives do matter. But all lives will not matter until Black lives matter.

We ask people to be open to understanding these issues, and not to reflexively retreat to our current beliefs. Change happens when people are willing to listen and hear the struggles of their neighbor, putting aside preconceived notions and truly seeking to understand and grow. We’ll be working hard on that, and ask you to as well.

– Your friends at Ben & Jerry’s

They’re not the first. The internet radio company Pandora came out in July with a very strong statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Since it was posted on Facebook, you might imagine that many of the responses were less than favorable, with several people threatening to delete or unsubscribe from the service.

Interestingly enough, the people who were complaining on Facebook about Pandora’s stance, might not have recognized that the social media giant posted a huge Black Lives Matter sign in front of their headquarters, after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in a 24 hour period. While it would have been nice if they had some type of BLM insignia on the actual site itself, where its users could see it, anyone who did just a few seconds of research, would realize where the company stands.

Ben and Jerry’s is to be commended on perhaps what is the best, most thorough show of support from a corporation I’ve seen thus far. The intent behind their message is clear. The wording is not intentionally vague or unhelpfully broad. They are pointing to the fact that Black people in this country are not being treated justly. Furthermore, not only did the company assert their solidarity with Black Lives Matter, the statement seeks to educate those who may not fully understand or embrace the cause. There is no doubt in my mind that after seeing what happened with Pandora, that there will be some negative feedback and backlash. I’m sure quite a few people from the All Lives Matter club or those from the Blue Lives Matter posse will be so disgusted by the headline that they won’t even take the time to read the full letter. Still, those who are on the fence. Those are actively seeking to understand the cause just might learn something from it and think about the movement in a different way with this new cosign. And for that I’m grateful. I’ll definitely be getting some Cherry Garcia or some cookie dough in the near future.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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