Bon Appétit's editor-in-chief resigns after brownface photo emerges

Bon Appétit's editor-in-chief resigns after brownface photo emerges

Adam Rapoport, the editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit has resigned amid widespread backlash from both staff members and many on social media following a wave of accusations about discriminatory practices at the publication.

Rapoport, who was appointed to the position in 2010, announced Monday evening that he would be leaving the food magazine after a photo of him dressed in brownface with his wife was resurfaced and many began calling for his resgination.

"I am stepping down as editor in chief of Bon Appétit to reflect on the work that I need to do as a human being and to allow Bon Appétit to get to a better place," Rapoport posted to Instagram. "From an extremely ill-conceived Halloween costume 16 years ago to my blind spots as an editor, I've not championed an inclusive vision. 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. Thank you."

Rapoport's resignation comes two weeks after Bon Appétit was criticized by many for posting a black tile on social media with the statement, "Food has always been political."

"We'll be spotlighting Black-owned food businesses in cities nationwide," the statement read. "And you'll see us tackling more of the racial and political issues at the core of the food world. In the meantime, we encourage you to donate to organizations supporting racial justice."

The post was accompanied by a note from Rapoport on Bon Appétit's website addressing the ways in which the magazine would be covering the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

"In recent years, we at BA have been reckoning with our blind spots when it comes to race. We still have work to do," the post began. "But one thing I know is that our editorial mission — besides recipes and home cooking — is to cover the most important stories of the moment as they relate to food."

Many were quick to point out the lack of diversity within the publication's ranks.

"You can start by hiring more black people. Having more black people in the test kitchen and stories written by more black people," one person commented on the post.

"But how many black people or people of color are on your edit team? Just went through your YT videos posted from past month and I saw ZERO black people in the still images," another said.

A few days later, Bon Appétit published a list of black-owned restaurants in cities across the country, but people were again quick to point out the magazine's shortcomings when it comes to representing people of color within its own organization.

"Hope you'll give more airtime to black contributors in the test kitchen, once business resumes as usual. Thanks for being vocal but hoping to see tangible changes on your end too," one person commented.

After the photo of Rapoport dressed in brownface began making the rounds on social media, more instances of racial inequalities — this time from current and former staffers — were brought to light.

Sohla El-Waylly, a chef and assistant food editor at Bon Appétit, wrote in her Instagram stories about the "systematic racism that runs rampant within Conde Nast (the publisher of Bon Appétit) as a whole." She demanded Rapoport's resignation.

"I am 35-years-old and have over 15 years of professional experience. I was hired as an assistant editor at $50k to assist mostly white editors with significantly less experience than me," she wrote.

"I've been pushed in front of video as a display of diversity. In reality, currently only white editors are paid for their video appearances," she added. "None of the people of color have been compensated."

When reached via email, a spokesperson for the magazine would not directly address El-Waylly's claims, but did share the following statement with TODAY: "As a global media company, Condé Nast is dedicated to creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace. We have a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination and harassment in any forms. Consistent with that, we go to great lengths to ensure that employees are paid fairly, in accordance with their roles and experience, across the entire company. We take the well-being of our employees seriously and prioritize a people-first approach to our culture."

Alex Lau, who worked as a staff photographer at Bon Appétit since 2014 but recently left, said one of the main reasons he no longer works for the publication is because "white leadership refused to make changes that my BIPOC coworkers and I constantly pushed for."

"I've been quiet. I've been quiet about this for so long, because I always thought that I could actually change the organization from within. but I was wrong, and quite frankly I am so glad that the internet is going after BA and holding them accountable," he added in another tweet.

Other staffers, former and current, along with Bon Appétit contributors, continued to speak out against Rapoport and the magazine.

Cookbook author Julia Turshen, who also writes for the publication, called on white colleagues to abstain from writing for Bon Appétit.

Christina Chaey, an associate editor, wrote that she was "disgusted and humiliated" by Rapoport's actions.

Priya Krishna, a Bon Appétit contributor, retweeted the photo post of Rapoport in brownface and wrote, "This is f---ed up, plain and simple. It erases the work the BIPOC on staff have long been doing, behind the scenes. I plan to do everything in my power to hold the EIC, and systems that hold up actions like this, accountable."

Carla Lalli Music, who frequently appears on Bon Appétit's popular YouTube channel, posted that she didn't do enough to elevate black voices and chefs of color while serving as the magazine's food director.

This latest wave of criticism isn't the first time Bon Appétit or Rapoport have come under fire for being racially insensitive.

In a recently resurfaced video of Rapoport with several colleagues at an event in New York City, Rapoport looks directly at Krishna and calls her Sohla (El-Waylly).

In 2016, Bon Appétit published a story and accompanying video titled, "PSA: This Is How You Should Be Eating Pho," which featured a white chef demonstrating how to consume the traditional Vietnamese dish.

Following widespread criticism, the publication eventually pulled the article and Rapoport issued an apology over the "issue of cultural appropriation in food."

"Ultimately, as editors, it is our job to understand the impact our words and ideas will have. And when it came to this pho video, our words and ideas caused unnecessary pain and anger. As editors, we failed. And for that, we are truly sorry (something we should have said in our first statement)," he said at the time.