Michael B. Jordan‘s latest venture into the spirits industry has gone awry, to say the least. The Creed actor is now offering an apology to his fans after blistering claims of cultural appropriation arose following his rum brand launch last weekend. The line of rums, labeled J’Ouvert, co-opts the name of the annual festival that celebrates the emancipation of enslaved peoples and is largely indigenous to Trinidad & Tobago.
“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 in a statement via his Instagram Story. J’Ouvert is an Antillean Creole French word that directly translates to “daybreak,” but also signifies the commencement of Carnival. The inaugural celebration dates back to over 200 years ago when plantation masters derided the forcible labor of enslaved peoples by dressing up as them. Once emancipated, the newly liberated people started their own festival to in turn mock their former masters. Jordan continued, “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.”
Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon previously told a local newspaper that her office would be investigating the status of Jordan’s trademark for the name as his celebrity eminence could shadow J’Ouvert’s cultural origins. “This is of keen interest, not only to the Ministry of Trade and Industry but also to the intellectual property office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. We all have an interest,” she said. “Trinidad and Tobago is our interest.” Earlier this week, Trinidadian-born rapper Nicki Minaj also stepped into the brewing controversy, sharing a post that discussed the word’s historical roots. In the caption pinned to post, Minaj 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.”