In a bold move that has ignited a firestorm of controversy, ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s used the Fourth of July to call for the return of “stolen Indigenous land.” The company’s Independence Day message, which claims the US was founded on land taken from Indigenous people, has divided fans and critics alike. The audacious statement has drawn parallels with the recent Bud Light drama, leading to calls for a boycott of the brand. As the debate rages on, one question remains: Will Ben & Jerry’s face the same backlash as Bud Light, or will their message resonate with the public?
Ben & Jerry’s, known for its socially conscious stances, has once again stepped into the political arena. This time, the company has taken a bold stand on a contentious issue: the return of “stolen Indigenous land.” The company’s message, delivered on the Fourth of July, has sparked a heated debate, with reactions ranging from support to outrage.
The company’s Independence Day post read, “The United States was founded on stolen indigenous land. This Fourth of July, let’s commit to returning it.” This message, posted on both social media and the company’s website, has divided fans and critics alike. Some laud the company for its bravery in addressing a controversial issue, while others accuse it of political grandstanding.
The company further argued that July 4 festivities and celebrations can “distract from an essential truth about this nation’s birth.” They proposed to “start with Mount Rushmore,” a monument that has been a source of controversy due to its location on land considered sacred by Indigenous tribes.
The company’s statement concluded, “The faces on Mount Rushmore are the faces of men who actively worked to destroy Indigenous cultures and ways of life, to deny Indigenous people their basic rights.” This bold stance has not been without its consequences. Many have called for boycotts of the brand, echoing the aftermath of Bud Light’s recent partnership with trans model Dylan Mulvaney.
The transgender influencer, 26, faced criticism after being signed as a representative for the beer brand in a March Madness contest. The backlash led to an ongoing boycott of Bud Light, with many customers deciding to distance themselves from the brand. Now, it seems Ben & Jerry’s may face a similar fate.
Among the critics is country singer John Rich, who has been an outspoken figure in the wakeof the Bud Light drama. Rich took to Twitter, writing, “Make @benndjerrys Bud Light again.” This sentiment was echoed by others, with one Twitter user writing, “Just when you think @benandjerrys couldn’t go any lower – they pull this stunt. Boycott Ben and Jerry’s.”
Another user called the ice cream brand “the Bud Light of ice cream,” suggesting that the company should “close shop, or better yet, donate your business and everything you own in these lands that rightfully belong to the indigenous people, apologize to them, and return to the continent your ancestors came from.”
Ben & Jerry’s is no stranger to controversy. The company has a history of taking stances on polarizing issues. For instance, co-founder Ben Cohen donated more than $1 million to a group urging an end to US military support for Ukraine. The company also caused a stir in 2021 when it announced it was putting a freeze on selling ice cream in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” a move that drew intense fury from Israelis, including PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Cohen and Greenfield later filed a lawsuit against parent company Unilever after the Israeli branch of Ben & Jerry’s was sold to a local licensee. The brand has also spoken out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBTQ+ community.
On its website, Ben & Jerry’s states its social mission is to “eliminate injustices in our communities by integrating these concerns into our day-to-day business activities.” This latest controversy is just another example of the company’s commitment to using its platform to address social issues, regardless of the potential backlash.
In the wake of Ben & Jerry’s bold Independence Day message, the company finds itself at the center of a heated debate. The call for the return of “stolen Indigenous land” has divided the public, with some applauding the company’s stance and others calling for a boycott. As the controversy continues to unfold, it remains to be seen whether Ben & Jerry’s will face the same fate as Bud Light. Regardless of the outcome, one thing is clear: Ben & Jerry’s is not afraid to use its platform to address contentious issues, even if it means stirring up a national controversy.