American actor Michael B Jordan, best known for his role as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, has angered his fans in Trinidad and Tobago and many others with Caribbean roots after he named his latest business venture J’Ouvert Rum.
Jordan secured the trademark for J’Ouvert Rum in 2020.
Jordan’s trademark document stated that the word J’Ouvert has no meaning in foreign languages.
However, it is widely known that Jouvert is linked to Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago and a few other Caribbean islands.
Jouvert is the early-morning ritual that ushers in the first day of Carnival.
The term Jouvert is derived from the French “Jour Ouvert”, the morning time referred to as daybreak.
Furious Trinidadians as well as many in the diaspora familiar with the term Jouvert (Jouvay) have turned to social media to express their frustration with the use of the cultural term.
The Black Panther star is being accused of cultural appropriation which, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture”.
And this is not the first time he has used a term that originated in T&T.
Jordan, 32, has various business projects besides acting, and in 2019 he partnered as an investor in a New York City rum bar and lounge called Las’ Lap, another Trinidad and Tobago term that refers to the final hours of the annual two-day Carnival.
Online yesterday, Justin Koo, a lecturer at the law faculty of The University of the West Indies, said the trademarking of Jouvert would lead to discussions of international trademark protection for Trinidad and Tobago brands.
“If we don’t do it, someone else will,” Koo said.
Writer and activist Atillah Springer (Tilla Willa) said culture has always been “what we fought for.
“We rioted for the right to have Jouvay consistently and across multiple towns in Trinidad from 1881–1891. Also, Hosay in 1884.
“Do you understand how much this smacks of the contempt that some African-Americans have for Caribbean people and our place in history of Pan Africanism and resistance?” said Springer.
“Jouvay is what the Africans created as a celebration of Emancipation. It was first observed on August 1, the date of the Emancipation proclamation.”
YouTube influencer Sinkglo Nafro said too many celebrities are getting away with cultural appropriation.
“Go ahead and make your rum, but you want to call it J’Ouvert which is something connected to Caribbean Carnival.
“The absolute disrespect that Caribbean people go through on a day-to-day basis, and for the trademark to say that J’Ouvert has no meaning in foreign language is so disrespectful,” Nafro said.
“It is cultural appropriation because Michael B Jordan is an African-American man. He is not a Trinidadian man, he is not a West Indian man. The West Indian culture is not his culture, so why is he using J’Ouvert? So could have come up with so many different words that would celebrate the African-American community. Too many celebrities are getting away with this,” Nafro added.