July 2020

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.

We were 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 we 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.

Rocky Patel

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!

14 thoughts on “Rocky Patel replies to false accusations

  1. “a darker skinned man”, “a tanned arm”, “the arm of a man of color”, etc.

  2. Some things are common sense. While the full “intent” may not have been there, how hard is it to realize “putting black (not brown, not tan) paint on my face, as a white man, is NOT A GOOD LOOK”? Why not just wear the clothes and the dot? Why not go for a lighter makeup if you just HAVE to paint your face?

    Another thing, no one is going to mention this sentence in the article – /The picture showed the arm of a colored man around his shoulder./
    Again, do we think “colored” was the best word to use there? Wow.

    1. What suggestion to you have to replace ‘colored’ with?

  3. Thank you Mr. Patel for taking the time out to lend clarity to the situation. One of my favorite go to is the vintage1990. I will continue to enjoy it. Seems like we live in a time where people are a bit over sensitive and are to easy to get there panties in a bunch. Thank you for producing excellent cigars.

  4. I was wondering about this before I protest my next Rocky Patel cigar. This article helps me feel better about the situation. As an African American, I know that we can sometimes be a little overly sensitive about race issues. Not everything that is perceived to be a racial insult is actually designed to be a racial insult. We have to judge people by their intent.

    1. I agree 100%. The context of the costume is understoood however, the choice is highly questionable. I know and have Indian friends and Indians, like African-Americans come in various shades The choice to go in the extreme darkest is questionable. Perhaps Nish is of a darker skin color, but I would think a VP of such a reputable company such as RP would be a bit more conscientious of dress at a public party. Still, this is one individuals act, not that of the entire company. I recall Antonio Brown calling Mike Mayock a racist word and not a single thing came out of it. He wasn’t fined, suspended, or vilified by his remark by the NFL or anyone in the black community. Nobody boycotted his move to any new team or pursuits to get back in the NFL. Why? I’m African-American. I like RP and I plan to keep smoking them following this read however, they were/are on notice following this VP’s boneheaded costume choice.

    2. You black people are pissing and moaning about someone wearing black face 7 years ago. How come no one is pissing and moaning about black people that try to lighten their skin?

      1. You’re actually comparing people lightening their “real” skin to people putting super dark polish on their white faces to imitate people of color? Wow.

        No one complains about white people sun bathing or going to tanning salons to make their actual skin darker (which would’ve been a better comparison to people of color lightening their skin). If you know the history of “blackface” and still call the concerns of black people “pissing and moaning”, that says all we need to know.
        Be Peace.

    3. I also think as African Americans we can also be overly empathetic… We do not need to downplay our sensitivities as it pertains to race. I think it’s warranted, and Dave being a Caucasian man in this country, knows blackface is NEVER OK. Even if we are not the intended target. He could have worn the traditional garb of Nish, and still got his point across. Rocky being a minority himself, and the only sad part was the manipulation of the picture speaks volumes. Although you stated “not everything” can be viewed as a racial insult, most of it is. It’s unfortunate that we live in a society where race is still a hot button issue, and we should always be selective about how and who we spend our money with. RP is one of my favorite go to cigars, but I will definitely have to start trying others.

      1. How is it “black face” if he’s dressed as an Indian? Are Indians complaining? Did the Indian insult white people by dressing as a white man? How can you automatically assume most things are racist when you don’t know most situation? Yes, we as African Americans have good reason to be sensitive but when we refuse to judge each individual by the totality of their life we are as bad as those who lump all black people together. I’m born and raised in Detroit. As a child, my family had bricks with notes thrown through our window when we moved into an all white neighborhood. We also had white neighbors who stood up for us. Today, I have some white friends who would sacrifice more for me than some of my black friends and family. Not everything is racist. We have to judge people by their intent.

        1. Mark, I understand what you are saying and yes, we should judge individuals by their intent, actions and character. The truth is that Dave made a bad choice. Rocky’s admission that it was a poorly executed joke supports that. Dave and perhaps Nish’s wife chose black face paint/polish. Based on the pictures and Nish’s skin tone on his neck and hand, he isn’t even a very dark skinned man. That begs the question and as far as I can see, lends itself to a conclusion that Dave wasn’t just dressing as Nish, but was making a statement about and exaggerating how dark Nish is. Why would he not just use a Cordoba or tan polish?

          I’m not saying Dave is racist, I’m also not saying that he isn’t racist. However, instead of being so quick to defend or justify the action or explain his good intentions, Black folks would rather hear/see more effort and energy put into learning why those actions are so wrong. Likewise, more action in proactively, and before stupid things occur, showing that there’s is an appreciation for and real inclusion and equity happening.

          1. Very well said.

  5. No excuses for blackface and rocky Patel will be boycotted by African Americans in mass quantities. You stated that you were born in Africa will this shouldn’t be any excuse and it be tolerated.

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