Cigar news: Rocky Patel cigars issues a statement concerning a doctored photo of staff and his brother.
Rocky Patel replies to false accusations. Over the last two weeks, Rocky Patel has received some gars critique on social media. It started when Patel was tagged in a Facebook post about an online cigar get-together called virtual MAGA meet-up. Donald Trump Jr, Tommy Hicks, and Corona Cigars owner Jeff Borysiewicz were special guests. Patel was tagged in a Facebook post. People in different groups started screaming about boycotts.
Ministry of Cigars was approached to write about the issue. Since we took a firm stance when Kaizad Hansotia of Gurkha was called out for his racist remarks, people expected us to support a boycott of Rocky Patel too. We didn’t. For several reasons. First reason: Rocky nor anybody else in the company made any racist comments. Second reason: Rocky Patel didn’t post about the virtual MAGA meet-up, he was tagged. So Ministry of Cigars didn’t see any reason for an article. That changed today.
Anonymous witch hunt
A few days ago, a post was shared on social media which spread like wildfire. It showed a picture of Dave Bullock, a VP at Rocky Patel Premium cigars. He was wearing black make-up but had a red dot on his forehead. The text, full of spelling errors, said
“since we are calling out racist mfers in the cigar world, lets do to this racist pos what we did to Hansotia. this is Dave Bullock, current VP at Rocky Patel. These guys just participated in a fucking MAGA rally and now this shit. Nah, I ain’t havin it, we’ve got no room for this kinda shit anymore! spread this shit, call em up and give em a piece of your mind. The only power we got is our voices, so lets use it.”
anonymous Facebook coward
But there were too many questions about this picture to justify an article or a boycott. The picture showed the arm of a colored man around his shoulder. Bullock also had a red dot on his forehead. That is not a bullet hole as some on Facebook claimed. It was pretty obvious it was a referent to the Indian culture. With Bullock working for an Indian American employer, it would most likely be a friendly jab at a company party. No context was provided. A context that Rocky Patel provided today on social media
Rocky Patel responds
Rocky Patel Premium Cigars is dedicated to crafting the world’s best handmade cigars. Our company is also dedicated to racial and ethnic inclusion and diversity. My brother and his wife were born in Nairobi Kenya. Our family has spent decades living in East Africa. The people and the continent remain one of our favorite places to visit and enjoy. Our family immigrated to Greenbay Wisconsin. I was one of two minorities in the entire school class. I started the company as the son of an immigrant from India. We know racial and ethnic bias, and we also know this great nation should overcome it. I would never work with or keep employed anyone under any other circumstances.
In recent days, an anonymous social media account accused one of our Vice Presidents of racism. In doing so, it posted a picture of our colleague, suggesting he was wearing a blackface. The poster knows that accusation is false and unfair because he manipulated the picture, cutting it in half. The real picture shows our colleague standing right next to my brother who asked him to dress like my brother for Halloween.
In fact, he is dressed in traditional Indian clothes, has a red dot on his forehead which is typical of what many men in India wear to celebrate festive holidays, and, is wearing a sign that clearly shows he was trying to resemble Nish. Nish’s wife herself provided the traditional Indian outfit he is wearing including the traditional Indian shoes that cannot be seen in the picture. Simply put our colleague Dave was trying to impersonate my brother at a Halloween party 7 years ago. It was certainly not meant to and did not invoke any of the painful racist history of black face costumes. Of course, the anonymous Instagram poster, who still refuses to identify himself, knows this. That is why he gave you half the picture and half the story. Racial and ethnic inclusion, diversity, equality, and sensitivity are a fundamental part of the fabric of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars. I will not hire or keep hired anyone who does not adhere to these basic standards.
Dave has worked with individuals of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities for over 26 years in the cigar business. He has built a reputation for working ethically, respectfully, and effectively with all people. This was simply a horrible execution of a bad idea, but their intentions were pure. Rest assured I will not withstand or wish to be associated with anyone who does not comply with appropriate moral behavior. I have been discriminated against before due to my color, ethnicity, and I certainly will not stand for it in my company or my associates.
The poster also suggests that our company has been attending political rallies that the poster finds offensive. That too is completely incorrect. I have been engaging with Congress and the administration over the last several years to save the premium cigar industry from the crushing burdens of FDA regulations. These regulations would affect the entire cigar industry, cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, closure of many brick and mortar cigar stores, and forbid new cigars from being introduced into the marketplace. I have spent thousands of hours fighting these regulations in DC and will continue to engage with Congress and this administration to finish this project which is crucial to the survival of the premium cigar industry.
I want to show you the manipulated image that was originally posted. It was cropped in a way that did not allow anyone to see the reality of what was actually going on, purposely causing confusion. The real photo shows Dave standing next to my brother, Nish Patel, dressed as each other at a Halloween party 7 years ago. It is sad to see a picture being manipulated to cause confusion during such a sensitive time in our world.
I hope this clears up this terribly misguided Social Media post. God bless be safe, healthy and enjoy your next cigar.
These are the pictures, one with Nish Patel and Dave Bullock, and the manipulated one posted by the anonymous coward trying to hurt Rocky Patel Premium Cigars. With the current treat on premium cigars, the fight should be focussed on legislation. Not on hurting companies within the industry. Shame on you anonymous coward!