Michael B. Jordan might be one of the most beloved actors of his generation, but he’s currently on the bad side with a certain segment of the Caribbean population. After the announcement of his new J’Ouvert Rum, many are accusing the American actor of cultural appropriation despite reports that Jordan is working alongside a business partner of Trinidadian descent.
Local Trinidad and Tobago publication Newsday shared via a report that locals and natives of the dual-island Caribbean country were critical of Jordan’s new venture, which was announced over the weekend. This past Sunday, observers on Twitter had plenty to say about the J’Ouvert Rum rollout, with a box set displaying an image fashioned after Trinidad and Tobago and a nod to the original meaning and reasons behind J’Ouvert. Jordan’s girlfriend, Loril Harvey, shared several images via her Instagram Stories feed of the rum and the box set.
J’Ouvert, for those unfamiliar, is an Antillean Creole French that translates into “dawn” or “daybreak,” which Jordan’s rum explains in its box set package. J’Ouvert itself originated first in 1783 after French settlers held masquerade balls that froze out the enslaved people of the island who then held their own smaller carnivals in their backyards. After slavery ended in 1838, the newly-free citizens held wider Carnival celebrations and the practice has spread across the Caribbean region.
Jordan’s foray into the rum business is reportedly in conjunction with Scott Robert Williams, a co-founder of the Las Lap club in New York. Despite Williams’ Trinidadian roots, he too has been accused of repurposing terms and items from his family’s country for his own ventures here in America.
There were some individuals who saw Jordan’s leap as a good thing and could spark interest in Trinidadian rum. However, the reactions from Twitter are largely mixed and we’ve got them listed out below.
UPDATE: By way of an Instagram Story post, Jordan has heard the criticism and has vowed to change the name of the rum while making sure he honors tradition.
“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,” Jordan wrote.
He added, “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.”
Nicki Minaj also weighed in on the matter, showing some grace towards Jordan by mentioning that the actor may not have realized the gravity of his actions.