Kaizad Hansotia from Gurkha in hot water. The flamboyant Gurkha Cigars owner is an outspoken supporter of President Trump. His Facebook timeline was full of links and memes with support for the president. But Hansotia deleted his Facebook after creating an uproar within the online cigar community.
Black lives matter
In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, Hansotia went to Facebook and posted “why do black lives only matter when killed by whites. Shouldn’t their lives matter when killed by other black people too.”. To add insult to injury, Hansotia than shared a meme by the apparel brand Heroic Outfitters about George Floyd’s criminal past. Heroic Outfitters Facebook page, by the way, is filled with right-winged memes and rhetorics.
Screenshots from Hansotia’s Facebook posts were shared in many of the Facebook cigar groups. That caused public outrage. Hansotia’s Facebook page is no longer visible.
Call to boycott
The Krimson Society, a membership society exclusive to the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi, called for a boycott of Gurkha, amongst other companies that shared the same rhetorics.
“It makes no sense to recount the series of tragic events that have placed our country in another moment of racial tension and upheaval. From Amaud Abuery, Brionna Taylor to George Floyd. The events that we have borne witness to continue to serve as a sobering reminder of the work we as Americans must continue to do to value and improve the lives of its Black citizens. With that said, there are still those companies and individuals, who have stated their vocal opposition to such efforts. This has been exemplified in instances of several cigar and spirits companies and owners publishing racially insensitive and inflammatory social media posts. We, the Krimson Society, say enough is enough.The Krimson Society on Instagram
Let it be known that the Krimson Society, comprised of a membership of 20,000 African American and Latino men, representing every profession including cigar lounges, retail stores, liquor stores, bars, and restaurants; will be boycotting all cigar lines and spirits brands that promote such racial insensitivity. In addition, we will be taking the following actions:
1. Mobilizing with all African American cigar and spirit societies throughout the country to create a national boycott list.
2. Sending letters to all major cigar distributors, retailers, and lounges and liquor distributors, in areas with a significant African American demographic, to discontinue sales of your products.
3. Send press releases to all trade and news media on social media posts found to be racially inflammatory.
We will begin the process to take these three actions effective immediately.
To be clear, no product is worth sacrificing the value and meaning of life. None. Therefore, to all companies that are either openly defiant or disrespectful to the current movement at hand, we say to you: If our Black Lives do not matter to you then your products do not matter to us.
PS: @gurkhacigars #americanbarrels you are both officially put on notice
It is without a doubt that Gurkha Cigars will hurt. A large part of the cigar community will now boycott the brand. And not only cigar smokers, but many tobacconists, especially the black-owned retailers will stop supporting Gurkha.
The official Gurkha Facebook page stated a message “To our Gurkha Nation: Kaizad Hansotia, owner of Gurkha Cigars, had erroneous posts on his private Facebook account. We believe the account was hacked, and it has since been deleted. The posts made in no way reflect the beliefs of this company.” Considering the fact that Hansotia has been posting pro-President Trump memes, right-winged propaganda, and (often already debunked) conspiracy theories, this statement won’t be believed by many people. The comments underneath the message are pretty clear about that.
And even if the hacker story is true, Gurkha should have come with a stronger statement, supporting the black community in their fight for equality and a fair justice system. To Gurkha, we would like to say #blacklivesmatter. As a result of Hansotia’s comments and Gurkha’s weak response, Ministry of Cigars has decided to pull the scheduled Gurkha Marquesa review that was planned for next week. Until Hansotia and Gurkha own up to their actions, no other Gurkha cigars will be reviewed.
UPDATE: Kaizad Hansotia published a statement, both in video and written on the Gurkha Facebook Page.
Last week there were very insensitive and disrespectful posts made on my Facebook account. Unfortunately, I WAS hacked though it didn’t come to my attention for a couple of days, and I have since deleted ALL of my social media as a precaution. The posts in question were made on my FACEBOOK and not my Instagram account, which had no such content. I know the fact that I was hacked is difficult to believe considering some of my previous political posts, but it is those political posts that most likely put me in people’s crosshairs as a target of the hacking. As a company, we stay away from being political, but let me be very clear about something… Racism is NOT a political issue. Injustice is NOT a political issue. These are HUMAN issues that cannot be tolerated and should be important to everyone, regardless of political affiliation. I stand by peaceful protests, and I believe what we are witnessing today is way too long overdue. We should not and cannot stand by and watch or support racism on a personal or an institutional level. I am humbled and ashamed that I have hurt anyone or have made any comments in the past that would in any way lend itself to this injustice. I am also ashamed that anything I may have done would make my employees look bad or reflect poorly on the company because that is simply unfair to them and also does not reflect their individual beliefs, and yet, my actions are hurting them.Kaizad Hansotia on the Gurkha Facebook page.
As a company, we have supported the fight against injustice and organizations fighting for change. We, as a company, do not make a habit of speaking of our charitable contributions because we do not give to organizations for the purpose of good PR, we give support because it is our social responsibility and our efforts to enact change. We will continue to partner with, and support, these organizations, and the end to inequality. Black lives matter. Eradicating racism matters. Ending injustice matters. Standing together as a community matter.
If you want to reach out personally, you can email me at KH@gurkhacigars.com.
People who have seen Hansotia’s Facebook during the last few years will realize that the offensive posts aren’t out of character. It was not the first anti Black Lives Matter post on his Facebook. No proof of the hack was provided and that’s why many cigar smokers, including us, don’t believe the statement. On a personal note, I would like to say: Kaizad, if you would have said “I’m sorry I offended so many people” and then explain what you meant with your post, but stand for what you said and mean, I would have respected that. I would still strongly disagree with it, but I would have respected that. Deleting your Facebook account and hiding behind a lame, and fishy “I was hacked” excuse is a cowardly move. If you talk the talk, then walk the walk.