The actor issued an apology on Instagram Stories on Tuesday, saying that he didn't intend to offend anybody when he named his brand J’Ouvert, a title which refers to a festival celebrating Caribbean culture.
“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. Last few days has been a lot of listening," the 34-year-old wrote. "We are in the process of renaming. We sincerely apologize & look forward to introducing a brand we can all be proud of.”
"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," the note on the package stated.
Critics, however, said the Los Angeles native has no connection to the tradition and he doesn't understand the context of the annual celebration held in the Caribbean islands, as well as worldwide.
A Change.org petition which sought to prevent the Black Panther from trademarking of J'Ouvert has collected more than 12,000 signatures so far.
"The word J'Ouvert heralds the annual Indigenous festivities of T&T's beloved Carnival, which began in the 1800s and is still practiced globally by people in and from the Caribbean," the petition states. "We are a people rich in culture, history and love. It's time we love ourselves enough to stop the sale of our culture to foreign entities that do not respect or value our global contributions, and who do not support and uphold our countries in respectful, long-lasting, tangible and verifiable ways."
A third party, which has trademarked the name, stated that J'Ouvert "has no meaning in a foreign language."
Nicki Minaj, who comes from Trinidad and Tobago, went to Instagram on Tuesday to relay some advice for Jordan.
"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 singer wrote.
Minaj shared a screenshot from another social media user who provided more context on the meaning of J'Ouvert. According to the brief history lesson, the term is a "broken down version of the French Jour Ouvert, the morning time referred to as day open."
Definitions.net explains J'Ouvert as having been formed by enslaved people who were banned from French masquerade parties:
"Banned from the masquerade balls of the French, the slaves would stage their own mini-carnivals in their backyards — using their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating and sometimes mocking their masters’ behavior at the masquerade balls," a description of the celebration read. "The origins of street parties associated with J'ouvert coincide with the emancipation from slavery in 1838."
"Some theorize that some J'ouvert traditions are carried forward in remembrance of civil disturbances in Port of Spain, Trinidad, when the people smeared themselves with oil or paint to avoid being recognized," it continued.