“We cannot move forward together as a nation until we begin to grapple with the sins of our past.” In a moving statement from a leading ice-cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s is now bashing North America’s ingrained prejudice on people of color in an unapologetic narrative. The company’s recent Twitter bio reads: “peace, love & ice-cream.”
“We must dismantle the white supremacy. Silence is not an option”
The company in the powerful statement posted on their website stated that the killing of unarmed Floyd by the white cops is a manifestation of “inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy.”
Ben & Jerry’s went on to touch the history of the US from where the tentacles of systematic and institutionalized racism arrive. they identify: “what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is the fruit borne of toxic seeds planted on the shores of our country in Jamestown in 1619 when the first enslaved men and women arrived on this continent.”
According to the company, George Floyd’s murder was not a result of a ‘bad apple’ but is a consequence of a racist and prejudiced system of white supremacy that from the beginning identifies black as the enemy, it states.
CNN, who writes Ben & Jerry’s statement is ‘”extraordinary” notes many major companies like Nike, Facebook, Intel, Twitter, Disney among others have criticized racism and cultural intolerance. But none of the companies have touched such clarity and directness in addressing the issue as the ice-cream maker did.
Ben & Jerry’s states that Floyd is the latest name in the long list of others who have earlier succumbed to the unjust structure of prejudice based on skin color, referring to similar cases from around the world, from Ahmad Arbery to Martin Luther King, and the other whom we don’t know.
In 2016, the Unilever owned ice-cream maker publicly supported America’s Black Lives Matter movement. The company has called on the US President in the statement, along with elected officials to commit 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,” Ben & Jerry’s statement says.
The company called on Congress to pass the H.R. 40 bill that would create a task force to study the trails of slavery in American history from 1619 to present and recommend remedies. It also called on the US Department of Justice to reinvigorate its Civil Rights Division.
Ben & Jerry’s has reportedly spoken on pressing issues for a long time. The company was sold to British consumer goods giant Unilever in 2000. Unilever’s CEO Alan Jope commented on the George Floyd murder and wrote: “Systemic racism and social injustice have to be eradicated. The business has a critical role to play in creating an equitable society that is intolerant of intolerance. #GeorgeFloyd#BlackLivesMatter.”
What is the white supremacy? Not “the white man’s burden” anymore
‘White supremacy,’ ‘oriental biasedness,’ among others are certain ingrained cultural and physiological prejudices ingrained in our society. They falter one community and uphold the other over superficial matters like the color of skin and features, ultimately negating harmony.
Britannica Encyclopedia defines white supremacy as “beliefs and ideas purporting natural superiority of the lighter-skinned, or “white,” human races over other racial groups.” It also states in the contemporary application of the term has extended to describe groups espousing ‘fascist’, ‘racist,’ and ‘ultranationalist’ (thinking of someone?) doctrines. “White supremacist groups often have relied on violence to achieve their goals,” the definition states.
The 19th Century’s British writers like Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Carlyle, and Charles Kingsley who all propagated the idea that it was the European’s — “the white man’s burden” — to civilize the nonwhites through beneficent imperialism, a term as hypocritic as it can go.
In the early 20th Century, Europeans also pressed to establish a biological footing to their supremacy claim. Reportedly a number of famed scientists of the time and institutions published papers to assert the biological superiority of the whites. And there, as can be guessed, intelligence would be a European’s forte, and an African’s dearth.
On par with the European regimes, in the US, groups like Ku Klux Klan, resorted to hate and violence in the pursuit of white supremacy during the era of slavery. Some parts of the group still carry on. Since then it the West has come a long way, but incidents like this reaffirm the movement is still on.