In a world in which the trappings of allyship have devolved into Instagram likes or tawdry photo ops, premium ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s has quietly ignored fanfare in favor of doing the actual work.
It’s not uncommon to find posts admonishing the criminal justice system or systemic racism on their website, and since May 2018 they’ve spent over a million dollars on Facebook ads denouncing mass incarceration, advocating for mental health funding and demanding criminal justice reform. And according to the revered ice cream manufacturer, they’re just getting started.
On Tuesday, they partnered with the Advancement Project to unveil their latest flavor, Justice Remix’d, as part of their three-year initiative “to address the destructive cycle of mass incarceration in our country,” according to a statement from Ben & Jerry’s.
Prior to this unveiling, The Root spoke with Jabari Paul, the company’s assistant U.S. activism manager, who explained B&J’s mission further.
“Justice Remix’d is our fan-facing advocacy campaign that focuses on front-end criminal justice reform,” Paul told The Root. “Front-end meaning how do you divert and deflect people from going into the incarceration system in the first place? Many of which have no legitimate reason for being there.”
Paul added, “On a national level, we’ve really focused on three issues: ending money bail, stopping unnecessary prosecutions and disrupting the school to prison pipeline.”
In doing so, Ben & Jerry’s became partners in Color of Change’s Winning Justice campaign, which seeks to transform the criminal justice system by championing reform-minded prosecutors for election. But the company has a local strategy as well, which includes the involvement of the Advancement Project to work towards shutting down jails like Workhouse in St. Louis.
“90 percent of the people there are on pre-trial detention,” Paul said. “They’re just too poor to bond themselves out. You can be rich and guilty and not go to jail pre-trial or you can be poor and innocent and you have to sit in jail.”
Criminal justice reform is long overdue, and with the arrival of Justice Remix’d, Ben & Jerry’s seeks to be a part of the solution instead of resting on their laurels.
“The reason that we believe in social impact is because social impact goes beyond this idea of corporate giving. It’s about really influencing fan behavior,” Paul said. “Our goal is to drive them to increase awareness around the issues that we care about, like criminal justice reform, drive engagement, engage them around those issues and then ultimately inspire them to take action.”
Justice Remix’d is available for pre-order on their website and arrives in stores this week.
Correction: 9/5/2019, 10:42 a.m. ET: Color of Change was incorrectly listed as a partner for this campaign, when in fact, their partnership with Ben & Jerry’s involves informing work at the local level.