“Black Panther” star Michael B. Jordan has apologized after fans accused him of cultural appropriation for attempting to launch a rum named “J’Ouvert.”
The name “J’Ouvert,” refers to both the Antillean Creole French term meaning “daybreak” and an annual festival held in Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands, celebrating the culture and emancipation from slavery during Carnival.
“I just wanna say on behalf of myself and my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture (we love and respect) and hoped to celebrate and shine a positive light on,” Jordan wrote on Instagram Story.
“Last few days has been a lot of listening,” he wrote. “A lot of learning and engaging in countless community conversations. We hear you. I hear you and want to be clear that we are in the process of renaming,” he concludes. “We sincerely apologize and look forward to introducing a brand we can all be proud of.”
On Monday, Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon said they were looking into whether Jordan had trademarked the name.
“This is of keen interest, not only to the Ministry of Trade and Industry but also to the intellectual property office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. We all have an interest,” she told Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. “Trinidad and Tobago is our interest.”
Jordan’s critics included rap star Nicki Minaj, who tweeted that while she doubted the actor meant any harm, he should “change the name & continue to flourish & prosper.”
A Change.Org petition was also launched, calling for Jordan’s trademark filing to be dismissed.
“We’re asking that this filing be dismissed because of the above fraudulent and inaccurate statement,” the petition reads.
“We’re asking that Investigator Maria Rivera Sanchez and the USPTO pause their final decision on the trademark of the word J’Ouvert by foreign entities for the use of the sale of rum.”
The petition adds, “Through this simple petition, we will ensure that those responsible for this utterly disrespectful and self-serving act learn to honor Caribbean people and their history.”