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Racial Justice

There is an awakening in America today, a new movement of advocates and activists rising to counter those who claim we have already arrived in a post-racial era. When white supremacists march with torches through Charlottesville, VA, and the president of the United States harshly condemns black athletes who are peacefully protesting injustice, then it’s plain to see how much work there is left to be done.

This new movement is standing up for black lives and insists that all of us acknowledge the deep systemic and structural racism that exists in our country today. It’s a movement that demands we confront the injustices of the past and present so that we may move forward together to build a nation of liberty and justice for all.

While it’s true that examples of overt racism may be more rare than they were in decades past, we know that racism itself has not gone away. Hate crimes are on the rise. Hate groups have felt emboldened by the results of the last election to spread their message of division and prejudice. But there’s another kind of racism that’s harder to see, and no less destructive: it’s deeply embedded within institutions like our schools, workplaces, the criminal justice system, and hospitals, to name a few. Think about it: white people occupy a disproportionate number of positions of power in our society, which necessarily comes at the expense of people of color.

We believe that everyone deserves a fair chance to succeed and thrive in this country, to participate fully in the life of their community, and we believe in removing all barriers to achieving those goals. So we invite you to join us on a journey to better understand the issue of race in America, to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism and the implicit biases that all of us carry—and to commit to what Rev. William Barber called on all of us to do: "join hands and move forward together."

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Many Rivers to Cross Music Festival: A Festival of Music, Art, & Justice

We think music helps make things better. Whether it’s ultimate euphoria, or embracing strong emotions, music has always been there for us. At Many Rivers music festival, so many incredible artists united around music to shine a light on issues of social justice and human rights, and we were right there beside them singing the chorus.

 

Friends in the Movement
  • Color Of ChangeColor Of Change helps people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over one million members, they move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.

  • The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

  • The Dream Corps is a social justice accelerator. They back initiatives that close prison doors and open doors of opportunity for all.

  • Black Lives Matter Vermont is a growing network of individuals, families and businesses invested in the liberation of Black Vermonters, and the deactivation of systemic racism endured by all people of color in our state. Black Lives Matter Vermont is an official non-profit organization recognized by the state of Vermont, is in close communication with the national Black Lives Matter organization, and is in the processing of becoming an official national chapter. BLM VT shares the same vision with the national movement and has a local vision as well. We identify as a peaceful, non-violent movement. The premise behind our existence is to stop the violence against Black people.

  • The FRRC is a group of 70+ national, statewide, & local organizations (ACLU, NAACP, League of Women Voters, Latino Leadership, and others) committed to eradicating Jim Crow in Florida. We are firmly committed against a civil and voting rights ban that strips away rights from 1 million Floridians and about 5 million Americans, nationally.

  • Dream Defenders is an uprising of communities in struggle, shifting culture through transformational organizing.

  • The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has emerged from more than a decade of work by grassroots community and religious leaders, organizations and movements fighting to end systemic racism, poverty, militarism, environmental destruction & related injustices and to build a just, sustainable and participatory society. The Campaign aims to build a broad and deep national moral movement — rooted in the leadership of poor people and reflecting the great moral teachings — to unite our country from the bottom up.

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Frequently Asked Questions
  • Racial equity is often used as a term to establish equality for all regardless of their skin color. Equity, however, is different from equality. While we believe equality is critical in many facets of society, such as marriage equality - in which everyone should be given the same right to marry whomever they choose - equity is different in that it doesn’t advocate providing the same solutions for everyone. The idea of equity is acknowledging that certain groups have a predetermined disadvantage, and that we must build societal structures that eliminate those disadvantages and implicit biases. At the same time we should strive to assist those who are the most negatively affected by our system to gain more support.

  • While many Americans don’t consider themselves racists, that doesn’t mean we live in a post-racial country. It’s true that we have elected our country’s first Black president, and we no longer legally mandate segregate schools or buses. However, societal outcomes for people of color are still far worse than for whites. This is the notion of systemic (also known as institutional or structural) racism versus racism as it has been historically known. Due to a convoluted history, and subconscious judgement - also known as implicit bias - people of color still face vast obstacles in achieving the same life outcomes as whites.

  • At Ben & Jerry’s, we see issues of systemic racism and implicit bias as the defining social justice issue at this time in our country. In a society in which white people occupy most positions of decision-making power, people of color have a difficult time getting a fair shake, let alone getting ahead. We believe that because we are a predominantly white company based in a state that is predominantly white, that we have both an opportunity, and frankly an obligation to work both inside and outside our company to end systemic racism. We understand these issues aren’t the responsibility of people of color to solve, it requires changing the hearts and minds of those who have benefitted from centuries of racism, as well as empowering them to help positively change the systems that affect us all.

  • Since our founding, we’ve sought to use our company to tackle issues of social justice. From climate justice, to LGBT rights – Ben & Jerry’s has historically stood up for what we believe in. We feel that the issues of race have become increasingly divisive over the past decade resulting in policies that intentionally force people of color out of our democracy. Through the suppression of Black, low income, and minority voters, we have landed with a government that doesn’t look all that much like ‘we the people’, instead the rule makers are predominantly white, older, and male. This has resulted in policies that are not representative of our diverse nation. It perpetuates a society that doesn’t provide equal outcomes for all of its members. We feel the polarizing issue of race is inherently at the root of many other issues our country is facing.

  • We believe that because we are a predominantly white company based in a state that is predominantly white, that we have both an opportunity, and frankly an obligation to work both inside and outside our company to end systemic racism. We understand these issues aren’t the responsibility of people of color to solve, it requires changing the hearts and minds of those who have benefitted from centuries of racism.

  • Yes, we understand that it is not always just people of color who are deprioritized in decision making. As they say, a rising tide lifts all ships, and right now people of color are facing the most disproportionate economic hardships, and are often the target of unfair policies made by our government and other institutions. We feel that by addressing the issues surrounding racial equity we will be well on our way to address issues that other low- income Americans face.

  • Our statement that Black lives matter is meant to put Ben & Jerry’s on the record; to acknowledge that issues of institutional racism and implicit bias are real, and that as a company committed to social justice and equity, we stand as allies with people of color on the long march towards justice.

  • Yes, we support the national movement that stands for Black lives. It’s similar to why we took a stance to support the Occupy Wall Street movement, by agreeing with their basic principles. Black Lives Matter is “committed to embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace in (their) engagements with one another.” We agree with their inclusion of the LGBT community, practicing empathy, and “working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension all people.” We need to stop systematically making it harder for people of color to succeed. We need to end violence towards people because of the color of their skin.

  • At Ben & Jerry’s we are not anti-police. We support our public servants who work tirelessly for our communities. With that, we do recognize the disparities between the impacts that the criminal justice system has on people of color versus whites. Blacks are more likely to be charged, arrested, and jailed for many crimes. This is, in effect, due to implicit bias that impacts not just officers, but many other parts of our society.

  • Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. and all of our employees have deep and heartfelt sympathy for Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, his family and his fellow officers, over his tragic death in December of 1981. The loss of anyone's life is reprehensible. The loss of a law enforcement officer's life in the line of duty is particularly egregious.                  

    Unfortunately, there continues to be misinformation - outright false statements and accusations - concerning this tragedy. To set the record straight, Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. has never taken a position - formal or informal - on any aspect of this tragic case, the sentence or the guilt or innocence of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Any comment to the contrary is both false and irresponsible.                 

    There are two particularly absurd falsehoods being circulated, primarily on the internet. One is that Ben & Jerry's made contributions to groups involved in this case. Ben & Jerry's has never, and will never, make any such contributions. The other falsehood involves allegations that Ben & Jerry's has an ice cream flavor whose name is connected to this case. That is both totally false and absurd.       

    Any misunderstanding regarding Ben & Jerry's connection with this case may have stemmed from the fact that Ben Cohen, one of our co-founders, acting as a private citizen, joined hundreds of other people in signing a petition years ago calling for a fair trial. Mr. Cohen made his decision to sign as a private citizen, stating "I am in no position to judge his guilt or innocence. For all I know, a new and impartial trial could find him guilty again. But the American system of justice must be fair and must be perceived as fair."               

    It is understandable that people have difficulty separating in their minds that when Ben Cohen makes a private choice to do something, he does not represent Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. As a company, we respect each individual's inalienable right to make those choices.   

  • While many Americans don’t consider themselves racists, that doesn’t mean we live in a post-racial country. It’s true that we elected our country’s first Black president, and we no longer legally segregate schools or buses, but societal outcomes for people of color are still far worse than for whites. This is the notion of systemic racism (also referred to as institutional racism or structural racism) versus racism. Due to a convoluted history, and subconscious judgment - also known as implicit bias - people of color still face vast obstacles in achieving the same life outcomes as whites.

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

  • We support the national movement that stands for Black lives. It’s similar to why we took a stance to support the Occupy Wall Street movement, by agreeing with their basic principles. Black Lives Matter is “committed to embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace in (their) engagements with one another.” We agree with their inclusion of the LGBT community, practicing empathy, and “working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension all people.” We need to stop systematically making it harder for people of color to succeed. We need to end violence towards people because of the color of their skin.

  • No. However, we do believe that all of us are subject to implicit biases based on our own life experiences and the culture around us. And if you believe, as we do, that people of color have been disadvantaged by more than 400 years of history in America, then the flip side of that must also be true, that there is an implicit privilege of being white.

  • Not recognizing the issues of race has not made those problems go away. Systemic racism and implicit bias continue in our society. Our goal is to raise awareness of institutional racism and the nature of implicit bias in our communities. In this effort we hope to prevent more senseless acts of violence and help eliminate persistent discriminatory practices against people of color. It doesn’t mean the conversations are easy, but they are necessary to heal and take progressive steps forward.

  • This is not about making people feel guilty for the sake of guilt. It is about acknowledging that past structural injustices are intrinsically linked to the systemic racism that continues to plague our society today.

  • Ben & Jerry’s not the only business to support the movement. Global businesses and business leaders from companies like AT&T, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Pandora, and Facebook have expressed support. In addition, local Vermont institutions including the University of Vermont Student Government and Gannet Company owned Burlington Free Press have expressed support.

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