Adam Rapoport: Bon Appétit editor resigns over ‘brown face’ photo

Current and former members of staff called for the editor to step down from his role 

Sarah Young
Tuesday 09 June 2020 14:02 BST
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The editor in chief of popular US food magazine Bon Appétit has announced his resignation after a photograph of him dressed in “brown face” resurfaced on social media.

On Monday, a screenshot of a photo featuring Adam Rapoport and his wife, Simone Shubuck, dressed as stereotypes of Puerto Ricans was posted on Twitter. “Me and my papi,” Shubuck captioned the original image, which was posted in 2013, followed by the hashtag “boricua”, a term often used by Puerto Ricans to identify themselves.

The Twitter user also included screenshots from the comments section of the photo, including one made by Jane Larkworthy, the current beauty editor-at-large of The Cut.

“This was so dead on, I was so afraid of you two that night!!!!!”, she wrote at the time.

Larkworthy replied to the tweet sharing her comment and called her remark “shameful”. “My comment on this post, with its implication that I’m afraid of people of colour — in particular, Puerto Rican people — is shameful,” Larkworthy wrote.

“What’s even more shameful is that I didn’t approach the people in the photograph at the time and tell them why this was racist.”

The photo of Rapoport quickly prompted widespread backlash and led to many of Bon Appétit’s current and former members of staff calling for the editor to step down.

Sohla El-Waylly, a chef and restaurateur who was hired by Bon Appetit last year as an assistant editor, accused the magazine of only paying white editors to make video appearances.

“I am angry and disgusted by the photo of @rapoport in brown face. I have asked for his resignation. This is just a symptom of the systemic racism that runs within the Condé Nast as a whole,” El-Waylly wrote on Instagram stories.

“I am 35 years old and have over 15 years’ professional experience. I was hired as an assistant editor at $50k to assist mostly white editors with significantly less experience than me. I have been pushed in front of video as a display of diversity. In reality, currently only white editors are paid for their video appearances. None of the people of colour have been compensated.”

Following the backlash, Rapoport later announced that he was stepping down from his position at the publication “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”.

Sharing a statement on Instagram, he wrote: “From an extremely ill-conceived Halloween costume 16 years ago to my blind spots as an editor I’ve not championed an inclusive vision. And ultimately it’s been at the expense of Bon Appétit and its staff as well as our readers. They all deserve better.

Sohla El-Waylly shared her opinion on the photo of Adam Rapoport and publishing group Condé Nast (Instagram: @sohlae)

“The staff has been working hard to evolve the brand in a 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 out the editors of BA. Thank you.”

A Condé Nast representative denied El-Waylly’s comments about pay disparities for video appearances, in a statement to Variety.

The publisher also said it 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,” Joe Libonati, chief communications officer at Condé Nast, told CNN.

“We take the well-being of our employees seriously and prioritise a people-first approach to our culture.”

The Independent has contacted Bon Appétit and Condé Nast for comment.

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