He's facing backlash for naming the brand J'Ouvert Rum, a word that has specific connotations in Trinidad and Tobago.
Michael B. Jordan is the latest member of Hollywood to expand his portfolio into the alcoholic beverage industry. He joins Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Diddy, and others in his new venture into the spirits industry, but few have faced the almost instantaneous backlash Jordan is for his new J'Ouvert Rum brand.
Jordan is facing accusations of cultural appropriation by critics of all backgrounds, but especially those with Caribbean roots for naming the brand J'Ouvert after launching it on Sunday (June 20). Proud girlfriend Lori Harvey shared a series of snaps of the couple celebrating the launch, including one that provided a close look at a boxed set that included Jordan's inspiration for naming the brand.
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The description on the box for the rum reads, “Derives from the Antellian Creole French term meaning ‘daybreak,’ J’OUVERT originated in the pre-dawn streets of Trinidad, as celebration of emancipation combined with Carnival season to serve as the festival informal commencements. Crafted on those same islands, J’OUVERT Rum is a tribute to the party start.” Shortly thereafter, the rum started raising eyebrows by users across social media.
"Modern day j'ouvert may look fun to you because of all the music and mud and paint but if you knew anything about the vitality of trinbagonian people or west indian people it's that through all we been through we celebrate our past and ancestors with jubilation," explained one Twitter user. "we're happy people despite it all. just because a festival or aspect of our culture looks fun and inviting does NOT mean it's yours to take. everything here has a dark past but we make due in honour of those who came before us. respect it and leave it alone."
Other users argued that using the word for a rum brand strips it of its sentimental value. Another user reports that the logo on the J'Ouvert Rum's swag box depicted three islands, although Trinidad & Tobago is a two-island nation.
The official rum brand's official page J'ouvert has since been made private, and both Jordan and his girlfriend Lori Harvey have erased all traces of their launch from social media following the backlash, although they live on through screenshotted content.
The Minister of Trade and Industry in Trinidad and Tobago, Paula Gopee-Scoon, has already weighed in on the matter, saying, “The first thing is to gather the information to see if it is in fact so. Then working together with the intellectual property office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, we’ll do the necessary investigation..."
Michael B. Jordan has yet to speak out about the situation.