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Michael B. Jordan will change the name of his rum brand after sparking online criticism, specifically assertions of cultural appropriation, following its launch earlier this month.
In an apology posted to his Instagram story, the producer and Black Panther actor responded to social media calls to change the name from J’Ouvert, which is the name of an annual celebration originating in Trinidad and Tobago that celebrates emancipation from slavery and the start of Carnival.
“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,” Jordan said in his post. (When reached for further comment, Jordan’s reps directed The Hollywood Reporter to his Instagram post.)
As the conversation around the brand’s name picked up steam online, some social media users from the Caribbean community and diaspora pointed out the lack of connection between its public-facing figures and Caribbean culture, raising questions about Jordan’s use of the term and whether it was culturally appropriative.
At one point, Trinidadian artist Nicki Minaj even weighed in. “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.
Initially, images of the rum line box set and other videos were shared over Instagram from various accounts, including stories from Jordan’s current partner Lori Harvey and actor Bryan Greenberg.
In one shot, a description of the rum line 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.”
An online petition with over 12,000 signatures was launched in response to the brand’s use the term. In it, the petition points to the brand’s United States Patent & Trademark Office filing, where the section that requests a translation of the words in the “mark” states, “The wording ‘J’OUVERT’ has no meaning in a foreign language.”
“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 continued in his Instagram story. “Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning & engaging in countless community conversations…”
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