Just days after announcing his line of rum, Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan has found himself in hot waters. Jordan named his rum brand J'Ouvert (pronounced "jou-vay") after a Caribbean festival associated with the liberation of slaves. after facing criticisms from the Caribbean community including rapper Nicki Minaj, Jordan apologized for his lapse in judgment. In an Instagram story, Jordan wrote the following.
"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. 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."
The trouble began when Jordan, his partner Lori Harvey, and fellow actor Bryan Greenberg shared stories regarding the beverage on Instagram. The description of the rum read, "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."
It looks like Jordan was aware of what he was doing but didn't expect such severe backlash. Nowadays, there is more awareness about sensitive cultural issues especially involving marginalized people. Jordan should have been more careful. In response to the brand's use (or misuse) of the carnival name J'Ouvert, an online petition has been launched and currently stands with over 12,000 signatures. The petition opposes the brand's United States Patent & Trademark Office filing. The legal documents filed by Lous Ryan Schaffer, state, "The wording 'J'Ouvert' has no meaning in a foreign language". That's what has offended the Caribbean community the most. The campaign against the rum brand reads as follows.
"The word J'Ouvert heralds the annual indigenous festivities of T&T's beloved Carnival, which began in the 1800s and is still practiced globally by people in and from the Caribbean. We are not a powerless people! We are a people rich in culture, history and love. It's time we love ourselves enough to stop the sale of our culture to foreign entities that do not respect or value our global contributions, and who do not support and uphold our countries in respectful, long-lasting, tangible and verifiable ways!"
Trinidad and Tobago-born Rapper Nicki Minaj too chimed in on the controversy. In an Instagram post, 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."
Jordan is not the first celebrity to be accused of cultural appropriation. In fact, the Kardashians are famous for it. Kim Kardashian received flak in the past for naming her shapewear Kimono after the traditional Japanese attire. Just last month, 'self-made' billionaire Kendall Jenner appeared in an advertisement for her 818 tequila brand. She was accused of appropriating Mexican culture and received immense backlash.
Hopefully, Jordan has learned his lesson and this controversy doesn't end up affecting his career in the wrong way. He is one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood right now. He is rumored to be the frontrunner to play Superman in WB's upcoming reboot. Jordan is also making his directorial debut with Creed 3 coming next year. He recently starred in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six adaptation, Without Remorse.