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Indian American filmmaker slams Chris Rock for calling him a 'white guy' at Oscars

Joseph Patel, a producer for "Summer of Soul," was one of three South Asians who took home Academy Awards on Sunday.
Joseph Patel
Joseph Patel at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday.Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Indian American filmmaker Joseph Patel, who won an Oscar on Sunday for “Summer of Soul," is calling out Chris Rock for referring to him as a “white guy” when presenting the award for best documentary. 

“The reason that makes me SO SO VERY ANGRY is because I was so proud to be one of a handful of South Asians to have ever won an Oscar in the history of the award,” Patel wrote Wednesday evening on Twitter before making his account private on Thursday.

Patel was one of four producers who took the stage to accept the Oscar, along with Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, whom Rock introduced by name when announcing “Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” as the winner. 

“I hope this is right,” said Rock, who had just been slapped onstage by Will Smith. “Ahmir Thompson and four white guys.” 

Joseph Patel, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Robert Fyvolent, and David Dinerstein win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for "Summer of Soul"
Joseph Patel, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein accept the Oscar on Sunday for best documentary feature for "Summer of Soul." Brian Snyder / Reuters

Rock was also wrong about the number of producers besides Thompson: There were three, Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein. In response to someone on Twitter who said Rock must have been scrambling for a joke while still reeling from the slap, Patel pointed to the comedian’s comments from the night before, when he said he planned to say that exact thing if “Summer of Soul” won. 

At a pre-Oscars jam hosted by The Roots ahead of the ceremony, Rock addressed Thompson, “I’m presenting the documentary Oscar tomorrow ... I’m gonna say Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson and three white guys. Oh, you know I’m going to say it, too ... ”

Patel said Rock’s comment detracted from the joy and historical nature of the moment, mentioning the two other South Asian winners that night, Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia, who took home best live action short for their work on “The Long Goodbye.” 

“I got back home to New York last night and saw the ceremony on my DVR and didn’t have the stomach to watch it,” Patel continues. “I probably never will."

Patel then sarcastically, and profanely, thanked Rock.

Rock did not immediately respond to a request for comment.