Nicki Minaj at the Los Angeles premiere of “The Other Woman” held at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles on April 21, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Shutterstock)
By Karu F. Daniels, NY Daily News
Michael B. Jordan is apologizing for an act of seemingly unintentional cultural appropriation.
The “Black Panther” star has come under fire for naming his new rum venture J’Ouvert Rum, which shares the name of a Caribbean celebration that marks the start of Carnival.
Since unveiling the new rum brand, Jordan was met with blowback from Trinidadian-born celebrities — most notably Nicki Minaj, who called on him to step away from using a culturally significant name to sell liquor.
Taking to Instagram to share the meaning behind J’Ouvert, the “Stupid Hoe” rapper told her 142 million followers that she’s giving Jordan the benefit of doubt that he wasn’t aware of the potential controversy.
“I’m sure MBJ didn’t intentionally do anything he thought Caribbean ppl would find offensive,” Minaj captioned the photo before tasking the Emmy nominee to step up. “But now that you are aware, change the name & continue to flourish & prosper.”
Listen to an interview with Business and Entertainment Lawyer Merlyne Jean-Louis, Esq on “Intellectual Property” below:
The accompanying infographic shared from another user’s page explains J’Ouvert originated in Trinidad during a time “when sugarcane fields caught on fire and slaves were still forced to harvest the [remaining] crops before complete destruction.”
“That event was reenacted and male slaves were mocked by their masters. However after emancipation the slaves mocked the masters mocking them,” the image explained, noting that the tradition spread throughout the Caribbean islands following emancipation.
In addition, a Change.org petition demanding the 34-year-old Sexiest Man Alive of 2020 to not trademark the name J’Ouvert amassed nearly 12,600 signatures.
On Wednesday, Jordan issued an apology and, in reference to the growing backlash, confirmed he is “in the process of renaming” the brand.
“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 and shine a positive light on,” the former “All My Children” actor announced via Instagram story. “Last few days has been 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,” Jordan continued. “We sincerely apologize & look forward to introducing a brand we can all be proud of.”