Michael B. Jordan vows to rename his rum brand after cultural appropriation backlash: 'I hear you'

·2 min read

Michael B. Jordan has apologized and promised to rename his newly unveiled rum brand after online backlash over the name, which stems from Caribbean culture.

"I just wanna say on behalf of myself and my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture (we love and respect) and hoped to celebrate and shine a positive light on," Jordan, 34, wrote in a statement on his Instagram story Monday. "Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning and engaging in countless community conversations."

Jordan's girlfriend, Lori Harvey, recently publicly congratulated him for the launch of his rum brand, J'Ouvert (pronounced "jou-vay"), after which online scrutiny picked up. The brand is named after the annual celebration of Caribbean heritage that signals the beginning of Carnival and has ties to emancipation from slavery originating in Trinidad and Tobago. Critics argued Jordan should not be the face of the company without having any apparent connection to the Caribbean.

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Michael B. Jordan has apologized and promised to rename his upcoming rum brand after online backlash over the name, which stems from Caribbean culture.
Michael B. Jordan has apologized and promised to rename his upcoming rum brand after online backlash over the name, which stems from Caribbean culture.

Rapper Nicki Minaj, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, was among those who called on Jordan to reconsider, writing in an Instagram post Tuesday she was "sure (he) didn't intentionally do anything he thought Caribbean (people) would find offensive," but called on him to "change the name & continue to flourish & prosper" now that he was aware.

A Change.org petition aiming to stop Jordan and his business partners from trademarking the word "J'Ouvert" collected more than 11,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

"We hear you," Jordan added. "I hear you and want to be clear that we are in the process of renaming. We sincerely apologize and look forward to introducing a brand we can all be proud of."

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Jordan's isn't the only celebrity brand to come under fire as of late for cultural appropriation: Kendall Jenner was criticized earlier this year for her tequila brand, which she promoted with a photoshoot in Jalisco, Mexico, swapping her high-fashion gowns for jeans, an oversize button-up resembling a Mexican shawl, and accessorizing with a sombrero, cowboy boots and pigtails. Several other non-Latino celebrities have gotten into the tequila game, including George Clooney, Nick Jonas, Dwayne Johnson, and LeBron James.

Kim Kardashian, Jenner's half-sister, initially planned to call her shapewear brand Kimono before backlash led her to change the name to Skims.

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Contributing: Pamela Avila

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: J'ouvert: Michael B. Jordan's rum faces cultural appropriation claims