Michael B. Jordan apologizes and vows to rename rum line after appropriation outcry

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A man leaning against a white wall in a green hoodie
Actor Michael B. Jordan recently announced a line of rum that offended some. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Actor Michael B. Jordan apologized Tuesday after a recent announcement promoting his forthcoming line of rum sparked a backlash over the weekend.

Several accused the "Without Remorse" star of appropriating Caribbean culture by naming his beverage collection J'Ouvert, a term that marks the beginning of Carnival festivities in the Caribbean and is traditionally celebrated by the people of Trinidad and Tobago, according to the Guardian.

"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 wrote on his Instagram story.

"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."

Among those who criticized the "Black Panther" actor's incoming rum brand was rapper Nicki Minaj, who is of Trinidadian descent and called the name "offensive" on Instagram while encouraging Jordan to "change the name & continue to flourish & prosper."

Many were particularly offended by Jordan's move to trademark J'Ouvert while claiming that the word "has no meaning in a foreign language" in legal documents filed by Louis Ryan Shaffer. More than 12,000 have signed an online petition opposing the trademark filing.

"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," the campaign reads.

"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!"

According to BuzzFeed News, early packaging for Jordan's line of drinks included a statement that read, "Derived from the Antellian Creole French term meaning 'daybreak,' J'Ouvert originated in the pre-dawn streets of Trinidad, as celebrations of emancipation combined with Carnival season to serve as the festival's informal commencements. Crafted on those same islands, J'Ouvert Rum is a tribute to the 'party start.'"

What appears to have been an Instagram page dedicated to Jordan's scrapped J'Ouvert brand has since been wiped — except for a link to a website that now requires a password for access — while Jordan's team returns to the drawing board.

Emmy nominee Jordan is far from the first celebrity to be accused of cultural appropriation while releasing a new beverage brand.

Earlier this year, "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" alum Kendall Jenner's 818 Tequila collection ignited sharp criticism from several who accused the model of appropriating Mexican culture. Other Hollywood figures who have been similarly called out for their tequila ventures include Nick Jonas, George Clooney, Adam Levine, Justin Timberlake, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Dwayne Johnson.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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