Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s sparked controversy with a bold Fourth of July message, urging the United States to return “stolen Indigenous land.” The company took to social media to express its views, stating, “The United States was founded on stolen indigenous land. This Fourth of July, let’s commit to returning it.”
In a similar statement on its website, Ben & Jerry’s argued that Independence Day festivities often overlook the harsh reality of the nation’s birth. The company proposed starting with Mount Rushmore, stating that the faces on the monument represent individuals who actively worked to destroy Indigenous cultures and deny their basic rights.
This 4th of July, it’s high time we recognize that the US exists on stolen Indigenous land and commit to returning it. Learn more and take action now: https://t.co/45smaBmORH pic.twitter.com/a6qp7LXUAE
— Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) July 4, 2023
The provocative message received a mixed response, with some fans expressing support while others called for boycotts. This situation echoes the aftermath of Bud Light’s recent partnership with transgender model Dylan Mulvaney, which led to backlash and boycotts.
Critics, including country singer John Rich, took to Twitter to voice their opposition. Rich tweeted, “Make @benndjerrys Bud Light again,” while another user called for a boycott of the brand. Some individuals suggested that Ben & Jerry’s should close shop, donate their assets to Indigenous people, apologize, and return to their ancestral continent.
Ben and Jerry’s should give all their stores to the Native American tribes that originally owned those zip codes.
— John Rich🇺🇸 (@johnrich) July 5, 2023
Ben & Jerry’s has a history of taking stances on polarizing issues. Co-founder Ben Cohen has donated over $1 million to a group advocating for an end to US military support for Ukraine. In 2021, the company’s decision to halt ice cream sales in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” drew intense criticism from Israelis, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Cohen and co-founder Jerry Greenfield later filed a lawsuit against parent company Unilever after the Israeli branch of Ben & Jerry’s was sold to a local licensee.
Did everyone forget .. Ben and Jerry’s is and always will be woke. Its not new. Stop buying the products. pic.twitter.com/TbA4qpY2pW
— Anti Cookie Monster (@mantra_sam) July 5, 2023
The ice cream brand has previously shown support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBTQ+ community. Ben & Jerry’s website states that its social mission is to “eliminate injustices in our communities by integrating these concerns into our day-to-day business activities.”
Ben & Jerry’s willingness to address controversial topics has garnered attention and admiration from some, but it has also faced fierce pushback from those who disagree with the company’s positions. The recent call to return “stolen Indigenous land” on Independence Day has ignited a fresh wave of criticism and raised questions about the role of corporations in public discourse.
As the debate continues, it remains to be seen how Ben & Jerry’s will navigate the fallout from its latest statement and whether it will impact the brand’s reputation and sales in the long term.