Adam Rapoport steps down as editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit after brownface photo surfaces
Adam Rapoport will step down as editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit after a photo of him in brownface at a 2004 party was posted on Twitter on Monday morning.
In a statement posted on Instagram, Rapoport apologized for “my failings” and said he was resigning “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.”
For the record:
6:42 p.m. June 9, 2020An earlier version of this article misstated the year of the party where a brownface photo of Adam Rapoport was taken. It was 2004, not 2013. The photo was posted on Instagram in 2013.
“From an extremely ill-conceived Halloween costume 16 years ago to my blind spots as an editor, I’ve not championed an inclusive vision,” he continued. “And ultimately, it’s been at the expense of Bon Appétit and its staff, as well as our readers. They all deserve better. ... I will do all I can to support that work, but I am not the one to lead that work.”
Rapoport became the food magazine’s top editor in 2010. A replacement has not been announced.
In the photo, posted to Twitter by food writer Tammie Teclemariam, Rapoport and his wife are dressed as stereotypes of Puerto Ricans — Rapoport has a pencil-thin mustache and is wearing a Yankees jersey over a white undershirt, a large metal chain and a do-rag under a ball cap that reads “Bronx.”
In the Instagram caption accompanying the photo, which was originally posted by Rapoport’s wife, Simone Shubuck, she wrote, "#TBT me and my papi @rapo4 #boricua.” Many Puerto Ricans in the U.S. colloquially refer to themselves as Boricua.
The posting of the photo drew immediate, widespread condemnation from the food community and from Bon Appétit contributors and staffers at a time when issues of representation on the page and in the top ranks of food publications have been a focal point of commentary on social media.
“I can’t stay silent on this,” wrote BA contributor Priya Krishna. “It erases the work the BIPOC [black indigenous people of color] 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.”
“I’m likely courting internal reprimand,” wrote BA research director Joseph Hernandez. “But I’m appalled and insulted by the EIC’s choice to embrace brownface in the photo making the rounds. I’ve spent my career celebrating Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian and POC voices in food, and this feels like an erasure of that work.”
Chef Sohla El-Waylly, an assistant editor at BA who has appeared in several of the magazine’s test kitchen videos, said in her Instagram story that she had asked for Rapoport’s resignation.
“I am angry and disgusted by the photo of @rapoport in brownface,” she wrote. “This is just a symptom of the systematic racism that runs rampant within Condé Nast as a whole.”
She contended that writers and editors of color are paid substantially less than their white counterparts at the magazine.
“I’ve been at Bon Appétit for 10 months. I am 35 years old and have over 15 years of professional experience,” El-Waylly wrote. “I was hired as an assistant editor at $50k to assist mostly white editors with significantly less experience than me.”
She also said that she had been pushed in front of the camera, in a superficial show of diversity, but was not paid, in contrast to her white peers.
The BA test kitchen and its popular YouTube videos came under criticism recently for their lack of diversity. Of the channel’s core stable of video personalities, including Brad Leone, Claire Saffitz and Chris Morocco, most are white.
“Please let it be known that I stand with my family @bonappetitmag and do not support the behavior of our editor-in-chief,” wrote senior editor Molly Baz on her Instagram story. “I will not appear in any videos on Bon Appétit until my BIPOC colleagues receive equal pay and are fairly compensated for their appearances.”
Senior editor Andy Baraghani wrote, “Let me make it very clear that I do not condone the photo of our editor-in-chief in brownface. It is beyond inexcusable.”
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