This weekend, the Ben & Jerry’s store on Newbury Street served up a new ice cream flavor, Justice ReMix’d, to celebrate the company’s focus on criminal justice reform and bring community awareness to the cause.
The new flavor is made up of cinnamon and chocolate ice creams with gobs of cinnamon bun dough and spicy fudge brownies — “Just the right zip for kick starting conversations about racial inequity in America,” according to the Ben & Jerry’s website.
Sean Seltzer, the director of catering for Ben & Jerry’s Boston, said the goal of the event was to combine the launch of the flavor with a community discussion about social justice reform.
“We didn’t want to just have a normal launch party,” Seltzer said. “Since [the flavor] has been out for a month, we thought a great way was to do more of a community event and bring different community organizations together with the community to talk about these issues while sampling our new flavor.”
Attendees of the event, held at the Newbury location, were invited to try free samples of Justice ReMix’d and listen to criminal justice reform experts speak about the issue.
Arthur Bembury, executive director of Partakers, a Massachusetts organization that pairs volunteer mentors with incarcerated men and women pursuing higher education, attended the event and said he hopes the Justice ReMix’d campaign will bring community awareness to issues surrounding criminal justice.
“People need to realize incarcerated people are part of our community,” Bembury said. “Everybody deserves a second chance. Nobody wants to be identified by the worst mistake of their life.”
For Bembury, initiatives like Justice ReMix’d are important because they involve different groups working together to achieve a common goal.
“It reaches out to key stakeholders to make them become accountable and become part of the solution,” Bembury said.
Black and Pink, an abolitionist organization focused on LGBT people and HIV-positive people in the criminal justice system, also spoke at the event. Michael Cox, the director of policy for the group’s Boston chapter, spoke about the difficulties and injustice the LGBT community faces with the prison system in America.
“LGBT folks specifically have a really unique experience in the carcerate state,” Cox said during the event. “Black and Pink is here to lift up those experiences to show that prisons are not what we need to make our communities safe.”
Cox was joined by Angelina Resto, the first transgender woman in the state of Massachusetts to be transferred from a men’s prison facility to a women’s facility.
Seltzer said having criminal justice reform organizations speak at the event was a way to inspire members of the community to take action.
“The point is to have these people, the experts, talk about their perspectives, what they’re doing at the community level and try and inspire people to get involved any way they can,” Seltzer said.
Rachel Rubinstein, a junior in the College of Communication, worked to promote the event as a part of her work with the Public Relations Lab at BU and said she was surprised by the public’s response to the event.
“People were actually excited about the cause, and that’s what surprised us,” Rubinstein said. “Just because they were more excited about that than the free ice cream.”
Justice ReMix’d is the latest in a collection of Ben & Jerry’s flavors created in conjunction with social justice missions.
Some previous flavors have included I Dough, I Dough, which was released in 2015 following the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage, and Empower Mint, which was launched on the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.
Seltzer said these ice cream flavors with social justice connections are meant to be vehicles for conversation.
“We’ve always figured a great way to talk about a big social issue is over a scoop of ice cream,” Seltzer said.
Correction: In a previous version of this article Rachel Rubinstein’s name was misspelled. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.