Inveterate liberals Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who founded the Ben & Jerry's ice cream brand, have long proclaimed their positions on social and political issues. More recently, they are crediting their skin color for their success. The Ben and Jerry duo recently posted a video of a speech they gave at the A.C.T. to End Racism Rally in Washington D.C. in April.

The speech was headlined "How White Privilege Made Ben & Jerry's Possible." Greenfield related the story of his childhood and early adult years in Merrick -- a suburb on Long Island. He said that both he and Cohen attended private colleges and skirted legal troubles. After getting a guaranteed loan from the Small Business Administration, they were able to get their ice cream business off the ground in Burlington, Vermont, in 1968. All the while, they were oblivious to racism, he said. Greenfield said that he was once stopped by police for overloading his parents’ car with “14 teenagers” and as a result paid a $5 fine. In Cohen’s case, Greenfield said his business partner was once stopped for marijuana possession but was merely charged and fined for littering.

Cohen then told the same story as if he and Greenfield had been born as black Americans. For Cohen, this would mean that their parents would not have been granted mortgages, and that they would have struggled with the legal problems that as whites they avoided. Besides, if they had been black, Cohen said, they would not have received the essential small business loan. If they were black, Cohen said, "there never would have been a Ben & Jerry's. The deck was just too stacked against us."

Coincidently, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a former presidential candidate for the Democratic party, got his start in elective office in Vermont as mayor of Burlington. In January 2016, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Cohen announced he had created a new ice cream flavor to celebrate Sanders’ presidential ambitions. “Nothing is so unstoppable as a flavor whose time has finally come,” Cohen wrote on his Facebook page, which had a photo of a pint of “Bernie’s Yearning” ice cream.

 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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