T&T Govt, Nicki Minaj say naming rum “J’Ouvert” is cultural appropriation

Actor Michael B. Jordan has agreed to scrap the brand name J’Ouvert after criticism from Nicki Minaj and the government of Trinidad and Tobago

Michael B Jordan

Michael B Jordan has issued an apology, in the fallout from his announcement over the weekend that he was launching a line of rums called J’Ouvert.

The term signals the start of carnival in the Caribbean and is a cornerstone of tradition in Trinidad and Tobago; Jordan’s use of the word was felt by many to be cultural appropriation.

Critics were particularly angered by the line in Jordan’s trademark filing that claimed the term has “no meaning in a foreign language”. An online petition to stop the trademark had already topped 12,000 signatures and the government of the islands also expressed deep concern over the plan.

Singer Nicki Minaj, who comes from Trinidad, urged Jordan to change the “offensive” name on Tuesday; later that day Jordan posted an apology on Instagram Stories.

“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,” he wrote. “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 term “J’Ouvert” originates from the French for daybreak; its relationship with the start of carnival in the Caribbean dates back to the 1800s.

At the start of the week, the minister of trade and industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon, said that the intellectual property implications of the filing were “of extreme concern”.