This weekend, when Michael B. Jordan announced the new name of his rum line, J’Ouvert, it caused an outcry online.
Jordan was accused of cultural appropriation, as he is not Caribbean and doesn’t seem to have any clear connection to the term or the holiday celebration that generally kicks off Carnival.
There was particular concern over Jordan’s attempt to trademark the term.
By Tuesday night, Jordan had retreated from J’Ouvert, writing in an Instagram story that he will be changing the rum’s name.
Jordan starts by saying it was not his intention to offend or “hurt a culture (we love & respect) and that he and his partner’s intention was to “shine a positive light” on the celebration.
“Last few days has been a lot of listening,” he continued. A lot of learning and engaging in countless community conversations…We hear you. 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.”
Amongst the many online people telling Jordan that he can’t be taking the name J’Ouvert to sell was one pretty huge celebrity, Nicki Minaj, who was herself born in Saint James in Trinidad and Tobago. Minaj shared a Twitter post about why the name J’Ouvert has such special cultural meaning in the Caribbean, particularly concerning its relationship to slavery and emancipation:
In her caption on Instagram, she wrote, “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.”
A nuanced and thoughtful queen.