Michael B. Jordan is expanding his portfolio with the launch of his new rum brand, J’Ouvert, and while MBJ was celebrating his new venture this weekend, members of the Trinbagonian (Trinidad and Tobago) community were outraged at his choice to trademark the name J’ouvert.
J’ouvert is a huge street party held each year in Trinidad and Tobago during Carnival. People in the Trini community took to social media to express their anger toward Michael B. Jordan, accusing him of cultural appropriation for profiting off the name but having no known ties to the islands.
The description on the box of the rum, which bares the same name, says J’ouvert “Derives 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.
Michael has not publicly addressed the criticism though there were unconfirmed rumors that his business partner is of Trinidadian descent.
Nicki Minaj Calls Out Michael B. Jordan to Rename His Rum Brand With Ties to Caribbean Culture
After recently celebrating the launch of his new liquor brand, Michael B. Jordan was accused of appropriating Caribbean culture by naming the product J’Ouvert.
Not everyone is intoxicated by the name of Michael B. Jordan‘s new liquor company.
Over the weekend, the Black Panther star’s girlfriend, Lori Harvey, shared photos from an apparent launch party for a rum called J’Ouvert. “Congratulations on the launch of your rum baby!!! I’m so proud of you!!!” Lori captioned an Instagram Story photo of Michael at the gathering, according to screenshots shared on social media.
However, many took social media to express their disappointment with the 34-year-old actor’s company name, including Nicki Minaj. Some have even accused the brand of cultural appropriation.
Traditionally, J’Ouvert is a festival that celebrates Caribbean culture. In addition to being held annually in Trinidad, Tobago and Grenada during Carnival, it’s also celebrated worldwide.
On Instagram, Nicki, who is Trinidadian, re-posted the historical significance of why J’Ouvert is observed and called on Michael to consider changing the brand’s name.
“I’m sure MBJ didn’t intentionally do anything he thought Caribbean ppl would find offensive,” the Queen rapper captioned her post on Tuesday, June 22. “but now that you are aware, change the name & continue to flourish & prosper.”
The musician wasn’t the only one to speak out.
“What’s next? A free doubles with every #JouvertRum purchase?!” one Twitter user wrote. “Someone point out Michael B Jordan’s Trini roots fast for me please!!! Cuz I’m not understanding this s–t. Is it his grandma who makes the rum cakes???”
“please tell me michael b jordan did not trademark the word jouvert. please let this be a joke. please please please no,” another person expressed, with someone else adding, “I suggest Michael B. Jordan take that L. There’s no way you’re trade marking Jouvert bro.”
According to screenshots from the brand event, the packaging for the rum included a message about J’Ouvert’s history.
“Derived from the Antillean 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 informal commencement,” a statement read. “Crafted on those same islands, J’OUVERT Rum is a tribute to the ‘party start.'”
The liquor brand’s trademark for the name J’Ouvert, which was filed last September under a third party, has also sparked controversy.
A Change.org petition, which has amassed more than 10,000 signatures, criticized the trademark filing, which read in part, “The wording ‘J’OUVERT’ has no meaning in a foreign language.”
“We are not a powerless people! We are a people rich in culture, history and love,” a statement read on the petition. “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!”
The petition also asked Michael “to do the right thing by calling this a loss!”
Following the backlash, the Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon told Newsday the ordeal was “of extreme concern.”
“The first thing is to gather the information to see if it is in fact so,” Paula said. “Then working together with the intellectual property office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, we’ll do the necessary investigation and as always, seek to support anything that is Trinidad but at the same time protect what is ours.”
At this time, Michael has yet to publicly address the controversy surrounding the product. Additionally, the brand’s Instagram page has been set to private and the website is password protected.