'J'Ouvert' rum: Michael B Jordan accused of 'cultural appropriation', as Nicki Minaj weighs in
Hollywood star Michael B Jordan was accused of cultural appropriation after he launched his new line of rum 'J'Ouvert'. The 'Black Panther' actor is facing severe backlash for trademarking the word 'J'Ouvert' — whose significance is deeply embedded in the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. Over 11,700 individuals have signed an online petition against Jordan to revoke his trademark on the French origin word. Following the backlash, the actor agreed to take down the name and apologized for the oversight.
Petitioners included inhabitants of the Caribbean Islands, who were particularly infuriated over J'Ouvert Rum's brand statement — "The wording 'J'OUVERT' has no meaning in a foreign language." According to the petition, the word at the center of the controversy is derived from the French word 'jour ouvert' which means daybreak or morning. In Trinbagonian culture, 'J'Ouvert' marks the beginning of the Carnival. "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," elaborates the petition.
The protesters received the support of rapper Nicki Minaj who insisted that Jordan supposedly did not intend to offend anyone but urged him to change the name. "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," Minaj posted on Instagram. In the past, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Cardi B, Lilly Singh, and even Kamala Harris had been accused of cultural appropriation.
Is Michael B Jordan racist?
The Change.org petition urged Jordan to remove the trademark and "'to do the right thing by calling this a loss." Launched by an individual named Jay Blessed, it states, "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!"
Meanwhile, Jordan was lambasted by social media users, one of whom tweeted, "WE ARE NOT MAD OVER THE FACT THAT HE NAMED THE BRAND #Jouvert INNO. WE ARE MAD BECAUSE THEY TRADEMARKED THE WORD AND CLAIMED THAT IT HAD NO MEANING THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE THAT JOUVERT CARRIES DOESN'T DESERVE THAT DISREPECT AT ALL. #JouvertRum #michaelbjordan."
Another user tweeted, "Saw Michael B, Jordan trending and knew it was racist shit bc Michael B. Jordan steady says shit so dumb and racist, even Nicki Minaj like “heyyy”.
WE ARE NOT MAD OVER THE FACT THAT HE NAMED THE BRAND #Jouvert INNO. WE ARE MAD BECAUSE THEY TRADEMARKED THE WORD AND CLAIMED THAT IT HAD NO MEANING‼ THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE THAT JOUVERT CARRIES DOESN'T DESERVE THAT DISREPECT AT ALL. #JouvertRum #michaelbjordan— Jey🤍🦋 (@iamjennelleross) June 23, 2021
Saw Michael B. Jordan trending and knew it was racist shit bc Michael B. Jordan steady says shit so dumb and racist, even Nicki Minaj like “heyyy” pic.twitter.com/kHNVAM5UA9— Denzel NotDead (@DenzelNotdead) June 22, 2021
Jordan posted an apology note on his Instagram story stating, "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."
After Jordan acknowledged his mistake and agreed to rename his rum brand, he was lauded for the gesture. But, a section of Twitterati was still not impressed. Some insisted that he should partner with the people of Trinidad and Tobago and highlight their culture.
"Instead of renaming and rebranding @michaelb4jordan why not take this as an opportunity to partner with the People of Trinidad and Tobago and work on highlighting our Culture… the culture you were so keen to align yourself with initially? #Jouvert #michaelbjordan," a user tweeted.
Instead of renaming and rebranding @michaelb4jordan why not take this as an opportunity to partner with the People of Trinidad and Tobago and work on highlighting our Culture… the culture you were so keen to align yourself with initially? #Jouvert #michaelbjordan pic.twitter.com/M76zk7ktIq— Troyos (@troymendoza16) June 23, 2021