Corporate activism is too often cynical. In Ben & Jerry’s case, it offers hope | Nesrine Malik

The company’s stand against illegal Israeli settlements is a small but welcome contribution to an ongoing shift in opinion

There is possibly only one thing worse for social justice movements than getting no recognition, and that is getting too much. Over the past few years, the subversive energy of popular movements for equality, whether #MeToo or Black Lives Matter, has regularly been appropriated by corporations.

Big businesses tend to have a good nose for trends that could affect their bottom lines, and so move early to show support for whatever fashionable cause has broken through. There is little actual activism going on here. These solidarity shout-outs are a safe, low-cost way both to get ahead of any internal issues that might end up being exposed, and to win over the sorts of customers who make political change part of their consumer habits. But the appearance of change, rather than any seismic shift, is what these corporates seem to prefer. The year since the Black Lives Matter protests has exposed the gap between internal practices and pledges of support for racial equality in many companies, with employees coming out to protest against what they see as tokenistic gestures.

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