Some have criticised the ice cream company’s foray into politics
Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, described by some as the face of ‘woke’ capitalism, has revealed a new flavour in support of Democratic Representative Cori Bush’s “People’s Response Act,” which calls for a health-centered approach to policing.
The “Change Is Brewing” flavour – comprising cold brew coffee ice cream with marshmallows and fudge brownies – aims to help “transform the nation’s approach to public safety,” the company said in support of the legislation.
“It’s time to divest from systems that criminalise black communities & invest in a vision of public safety that allows everyone to breathe free,” Ben & Jerry’s said.
Ben & Jerry’s stood out among American corporations last year for its vocal support of racial justice in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At the time, the company posted a lengthy and pointed message on its website blaming Floyd’s killing on “inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy.”
On Monday, the Vermont-based brand said the new flavour was part of the company’s “ongoing work to advance racial justice” and hailed Ms Bush’s legislation for being “written to transform a system that disproportionately criminalises black and brown people.”
The company also called for the United States to “divest from a broken criminal legal system and invest in services that help communities thrive, like mental health treatment, counseling, substance use treatment, and healthcare.”
At a launch event on Monday, Ms Bush welcomed the new ice cream flavor and support for her bill.
“Where I’m from, we’re sick and tired of dying,” the congresswoman from St Louis said. “Our communities have been hurting, we face gun violence on a daily basis,” she added. “We know that this goes back to systems that were not mean to lift us.”
Ms Bush called for better funding for housing, education and green spaces and said that black Americans had traditionally not received a “just response” from police forces nationwide – which she said her legislation aimed to fix.
“Our current approach to public safety, it’s not working,” Ms Bush said. “The People’s Response Act writes a new future, this bill makes it clear that public safety is a public health issue,” she added.
The ice cream flavour is just one example of the “momentum” behind people seeking change, she said.
Ms Bush, 45, a registered nurse, got involved in politics in 2014, when she became a leader in protests over the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri.
She has faced criticism for bringing her activist background and style to the legislative realm, most recently when she garnered national attention by sleeping outside on theCapitol steps as she protested the Biden administration’s decision to allow a coronavirus pandemic-era eviction moratorium to expire, putting pressure on the White House.
Ben & Jerry’s said that it had teamed up with a number of black entrepreneurs and artists to produce the limited flavor. The company has been viewed as progressive for championing LGBT+ rights and climate justice.
The company is, however, no stranger to making waves.
In July, it announced that it would no longer be selling ice cream in the West Bank, after stating that it would be “inconsistent with our values” for the products to be sold in Palestinian territory that was occupied by Israel. The move led to calls for boycotts of the brand and provoked rancor from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who said the decision was a moral and business mistake.
Ben & Jerry’s was founded in 1978 by two Jewish Americans, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield and bought in 2000 by British company Unilever, though Ben and Jerry’s maintains an unusual amount of freedom under the terms of the deal.
The “Change Is Brewing” ice cream has received a mixed response so far.
“Thank you!!! Definitely going to try this!!” wrote one Twitter user on Monday. Another said: “Stick to making ice cream and stay out of politics, it’s far from your forte!”
The Washington Post