Michael B. Jordan to rename rum line amid cultural appropriation allegations: 'We sincerely apologize'
Michael B. Jordan is renaming his rum line, J'Ouvert, after being accused of cultural appropriation, including by Nicki Minaj.
"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," the Fantastic Four and Creed star, 34, wrote on Instagram Stories early Wednesday.
He continued, "Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning & 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."
His apology and announcement of rebranding follow criticism for the line using — and trying to trademark — the name J'Ouvert. J'ouvert is already the name of a festival celebrating Caribbean culture held annually in Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada during Carnival — and celebrated internationally. The festival began in the mid-1800s when slaves were emancipated and were allowed to embrace their freedom and practice self-expression.
How it's celebrated — in the Caribbean or in NYC — varies but traditions include smearing paint, powder, mud or oil on the bodies of participants. In Trinidad, before Carnival starts with feather and glitter (known as pretty mas), is J'ouvert — or dirty mas, the website AfroPop Worldwide explains. "It's the much needed balance — the foil to the manicured opulence. It's as necessary as night is to day. J'ouvert is the time to free up, let loose and get real dirty. People dance down the road to soca music booming from trucks, drinking liberally from moving bars and wining without restraint." Some celebrations merge the two.
The packaging on Jordan's rum noted the booze is, "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, the New Jersey-reared star's connection to the culture was questioned amid the booze's release — with critics asking if he had ever even attended a J’ouvert celebration.
Rapper Minaj, who is from Trinidad and Tobago, was one of the critics. On Tuesday as the controversy grew, she shared a history of J'ouvert and 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. 🙏🏾🇹🇹"
Also at issue was the company trademarking J’ouvert — or trying to somehow "own" a tradition. More than 12,000 people signed a Change.org petition to block the trademark — and for Jordan "to do the right thing by calling this a loss."
Minister of Trade and Industry for Trinidad and Tobago Paula Gopee-Scoon called the trademark issue "of extreme concern." And local Trinidad newspapers reported Jordan's rum line "angers Trinis."
There were comparisons on social media to when Kim Kardashian tried to trademark "kimono" for her shapewear brand, which she later renamed "Skims."
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