Michael B. Jordan Apologizes After Nicki Minaj, Others Accused Him Of Caribbean Appropriation
Michael B. Jordan has responded to critisim of his new rum line, J’Ouvert, which sparked controversy, including allegations of cultural appropriation.
The Black Panther actor, 34, on Tuesday apologized and announced that he would be finding a new name for his recently launched rum line.
Jordan came under fire from social media users over the weekend after he was accused of cultural appropriation for using the and “J’Ouvert”, a word deeply rooted in Trinbagonian and Caribbean culture.
“I just wanna say on behalf of myself & my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture(we love & respect) & hoped to celebrate & shine a positive light on,” Jordan wrote.
“Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning & engaging in countless community conversations…”
Jordan added that the brand will be renamed in light of the outcry.
“We hear you,” he continued. “I hear you & want to be clear that we are in the process of renaming. We sincerely apologize & look forward to introducing a brand we can all be proud of.”
Criticism of the brand began after Jordan’s girlfriend, Lori Harvey, posted images from an apparent launch party for J’Ouvert rum over the weekend and congratulated him on the new business venture.
The packaging box for J’Ouvert reads: “Derived from the Antellian Creole French term meaning ‘daybreak,’ J’OUVERT originated in the pre-dawn streets of Trinidad, as celebration of emancipation combined with Carnival season to serve as the festival informal commencements. Crafted on those same islands, J’OUVERT Rum is a tribute to the party start.”
However, what offended critics was Jordan’s apparent attempt to trademark J’Ouvert—specifically slamming the portion of the application that read: “The wording “J’OUVERT” has no meaning in a foreign language.”
J’ouvert — pronounced “joo-vay” — comes from the French “jour ouvert,” meaning “dawn,” “daybreak” or “opening of day.” But the word has a more ancestral and spiritual significance to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean at large.
“What pisses me off is Michael B. Jordan never played J’Ouvert no where a day in [his] whole life and possibly never set foot in Trinidad and Tobago yet using [Caribbean] carnival culture for profit,” a Twitter user wrote.
Nick Minaj became one of the highest-profile people criticizing the alcohol label when she shared a a post from another account describing the history of the J’Ouvert tradition and its roots in Trinidadian and Caribbean culture.
“I’m sure MBJ didn’t intentionally do anything he thought Caribbean ppl would find offensive — but now that you are aware, change the name & continue to flourish & prosper,” she wrote, adding an emoji for the flag of Trinidad and Tobago.
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A Change.org petition attempting to block the the trademark of “J’Ouvert,” argued that the filing makes a “fraudulent and inaccurate statement” about the name.
“We are not a powerless people! We are a people rich in culture, history and love,” the petition reads. “It’s time we love ourselves enough to stop the sale of our culture to foreign entities that do not respect or value our global contributions, and who do not support and uphold our countries in respectful, long-lasting, tangible and verifiable ways!”
The petition garnered nearly 12,000 signatures as of Tuesday night.