An old Instagram photo of Bon Appétit’s editor in chief, Adam Rapoport, wearing brownface circulated on social media on Monday, leading at least one of the magazine’s food editors to publicly call for his resignation.
The photo, which has since been hidden behind a private account, was posted as a “throwback” photo in 2013.
In response to the photo, Bon Appétit assistant food editor Sohla El-Waylly, who frequently appears in the magazine’s popular YouTube videos, said she was “angry and disgusted” by the photo and called for Rapoport’s resignation. El-Waylly also said that only white BA editors have been compensated for appearing in video content, whereas none of the people of color have.
“This is just a symptom of the systemic racism that runs rampant within CondeNast as a whole,” El-Waylly shared on her Instagram Stories. “I demand … not only the resignation of [Adam Rapoport] but also to see BIPOC given fair titles, fair salaries, and compensation for video appearances.”
In a statement sent to TheWrap, a spokesperson for Condé Nast and Bon Appétit said the company has 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,” the statement said.
Molly Baz, a senior food editor who’s prominently featured on the BA YouTube channel — which has more than 6 million subscribers — said she wouldn’t be appearing in any videos until her “BIPOC colleagues receive equal pay and are fairly compensated for their appearances.” Carla Lalli Music, BA’s food director, also said she wouldn’t be hosting any more YouTube videos until El-Waylly was “compensated for videos.”
Meanwhile, Claire Saffitz, who hosts the popular “Gourmet Makes” series on BA’s YouTube channel, said on her Instagram Stories that she supported El-Waylly’s “calls for equality and transparency” and acknowledged her “implicit acceptance of the status quo.” She also said Rapoport’s use of brownface was “inexcusable.”
Brad Leone, another popular host on the YouTube channel with the series “It’s Alive,” said he was “working towards being a better agent for change” and wanted to “hold Condé Nast to the same standard.”
Earlier on Monday, Priya Krishna, a contributing writer for BA who has also appeared in the magazine’s YouTube videos, commented on the photo of Rapoport, writing on Twitter, “As a BA contributor, I can’t stay silent on this. 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.”
And Alex Lau, a former senior staff photographer for BA, also spoke out about the culture at the magazine and said that one of the “main reasons” he left was because “white leadership refused to make changes that my BIPOC coworkers and I constantly pushed for.”
“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,” Lau wrote in a Twitter thread. “this is the only way that change can happen. call out the leadership of your favorite publications if you see something wrong. if they silence you, do NOT back down. there is strength in social media, strength in reader responses.”
— TAMMIE TECLEMARIAM (@tammieetc) June 8, 2020
Others coming out now: so far Christina (tbf she tweeted earlier), Priya, Sarah, and Molly. Do with their different statements what you will pic.twitter.com/wXksifKZHt
— Sarah Manavis (@sarahmanavis) June 8, 2020