Actor Michael B. Jordan has announced he will change the name of the J’Ouvert rum he launched earlier this month. In a statement he published on Instagram Stories, Jordan wrote, “I just wanna say on behalf of myself & my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture (we love & respect) and hoped to celebrate & shine a positive light on. We hear you. I hear you & want to be clear that we are in the process of renaming,”
The statement followed on the heels of Nicki Minaj (real name Onika Maraj-Petty) weighing in on Jordan’s choice to name the rum J’Ouvert (from the French phrase jour ouvert meaning “opening of the day”), a decision immediately mired in controversy because the name is taken from the name of the carnival celebrations held annually in the Caribbean. The events are viewed by many as a sacred celebration of the roots, culture and freedom of enslaved people. Minaj’s words carry some weight not only because of her fame and following, but also because she was born on the island of Trinidad and Tobago.
Minaj provided her feedback on Instagram where she commented on a post criticizing Jordan for attempting to profit from an event he has no connection to. Minaj wrote, “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.”
The carnival concept was first introduced in Trinidad by French colonizers in 1783 when slavery was still legal. While enslaved islanders weren’t allowed to attend the masquerade parties held by the French, they began a secret tradition of holding their own carnivals inspired by their own African-rooted celebratory traditions, while also mixing in some practices from the French balls.
As time went on and enslaved people fought for and won their freedom, the carnival tradition spread to additional islands and continue to be widely celebrated through the Caribbean.
Find Jordan’s statement and Minaj’s Instagram post below.