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After being accused of cultural appropriation, Lori Harvey’s man and Black Panther actor Michael B. Jordan decided to rebrand his new line of rum “J’Ouvert” — a reference to Trinidad and Tobago’s annual Caribbean festival — and changed its name.
“The festival began in the mid-1800s when slaves were emancipated and allowed to embrace their freedom and practice self-expression,” Aol reported on the celebration’s roots and tradition. Giving more context to how J’Ouvert is celebrated, AfroPop Worldwide, broke its customs down: “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.”
In what seems to be a press package for Jordan’s rum, its branding is detailed: “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.”
The brand quickly gained criticism as people questioned whether Jordan had ever even attended the celebration in Trinidad — or whether he was duely taking into consideration the celebration’s roots. A petition now with around 12,550 online signatures calls for the trademark filing (done by a third party) of the name “J’ouvert” for an international alcoholic beverages classification — wherein which claims that the wording “has no meaning in a foreign language” — to be dismissed.
Even Nicki Minaj, who’s from Trinidad, shared a screenshot of someone detailing J’ouvert’s historical ties to enslavement and freedom. In her caption, the rapper 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. 🙏🏾🇹🇹 ”
With the quickness, Jordan responded to the controversy on his Instagram Stories early June 23.
“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] last few days has been a lot of listening,” the actor continued. “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.”