Monday ended with a second top editor resigning. This time, it was Bon Appétit’s editor in chief Adam Rapoport, who quit after the emergence of a photograph of him in brown face, plus allegations of a discriminatory workplace environment for people of color.
Just hours after Refinery29’s Christene Barberich announced she would be leaving the feminist lifestyle site she founded 15 years ago, Rapoport took to his Instagram to tell his near 200,000-strong following that he was stepping down from the popular Condé Nast brand to “reflect on the work” that he needs to do as a human being.
The now-deleted photograph of him and his wife Simone Shubuck in brown face for Halloween was posted by the latter some years ago with the caption “me and my papi,” and it recirculated on social media Monday, sparking outrage among many staffers and readers. That included staffer Sohla El-Waylly, who said on her Instagram stories that she was “disgusted” by the photo and asked for his resignation.
“This is just a symptom of the systemic racism that runs rampant within the Condé Nast as a whole,” she said. El-Waylly also alleged that only white editors are paid for the video appearances on the brand’s popular Youtube channel.
Alex Lau added to Twitter that he left his position as a staff photographer for multiples reasons, but one of those was that “white leadership refused to make changes that my BIPOC coworkers and I constantly pushed for.” Others also posted their experiences and Molly Baz, a white senior food editor with a strong social media following, wrote that she would not appear in any Bon Appétit videos until her BIPOC colleagues receive equal pay and are fairly compensated for their appearances.
As for the brown face photograph, Rapoport said in his Instagram post that it was an “extremely ill-conceived Halloween constume 16 years ago.” He also admitted that he had not championed an inclusive vision Bon Appétit.
“Ultimately, it’s been at the expense of Bon Appétit and its staff, as well as our readers. They all deserve better,” he continued. “The staff has been working hard to evolve the brand in a more positive, more diverse direction. I will do all I can to support that work, but I am not the one to lead that work. I am deeply sorry for my failings and to the position in which I put the editors of BA.”
Amid national protests over the police killings of George Floyd and other unarmed black people, as well as centuries of systemic racism in the U.S., some companies, including media organizations ranging from The New York Times to Paper magazine, have been taken to task for their own shortcomings.
In addition to Barberich and Rapoport, The New York Times’ editorial page editor James Bennet resigned over his mishandling of the publication of the Tom Cotton op-ed, while The Philadelphia Inquirer’s top editor Stan Wischnowski also resigned over the recent front page headline: ‘Buildings Matter, Too.’
Condé did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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