Michael B. Jordan may play the lead in Without Remorse, but in real life, he’s issuing an apology.
Recently, Jordan received criticism after debuting his new rum brand, named J’Ouvert after the large street party held during Carnival in several Caribbean islands as well as several locations where Caribbean people have immigrated. As CNN reports, the 34-year-old actor was accused of cultural appropriation by those of Caribbean descent and ancestry.
Regarding the history of J’Ouvert, BBC notes:
The name J’Ouvert is taken from French phrase jour ouvert meaning “opening of the day”. The carnival traditionally launches in the Caribbean just before sunrise, continuing into the morning.
Its roots in Trinidad go back 200 years, with the arrival of French plantation owners. J’Ouvert evolved from the Canboulay festivals in the 1800s - night-time gatherings where the landowners dressed up and imitated their slaves.
But, following emancipation, the newly freed slaves took over Canboulay - imitating the former “masters” who once mocked them. This practice was banned by authorities but eventually re-established as J’Ouvert.
On Tuesday night, Jordan took to Instagram Stories to post an apology as well as his confirmation that the name for the rum brand will be changed.
“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 began.
“We hear you,” Jordan continued, noting that the last few days have consisted of “a lot of learning” and a “lot of listening” on his part. “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.”
Listening and learning is key, especially when you want to immerse yourself into certain aspects of a culture. As someone who does not have Caribbean ancestry (at least none that I know of; I haven’t taken an ancestry test) that has actively participated in carnival, masquerade, fetes and J’Ouvert for several years, I was immediately educated by my friends with Caribbean backgrounds—of course joy and fun should be had, but the knowledge of the historical significance and respect for culture is of the utmost importance. I fully love, respect and am constantly learning about it.
Prior to Jordan’s apology, Nicki Minaj—who is Trinidadian—shared a screenshot of a comment from artist Xaria Rae, which broke down the historical significance of J’Ouvert.
“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. 🙏🏾🇹🇹 #jouvert,” Minaj wrote in the caption.