Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport has resigned from his post, effective immediately. The move follows a series of revelations about a culture of exclusion and racist behavior culminating in a resurfaced Instagram photo of the former GQ editor in a racially offensive Halloween costume, alongside his wife Simone Shubuck.
Rapaport took over as the magazine’s top editor in 2010 but has been criticized by staffers and freelancers for enabling a culture where BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) are not treated or compensated fairly in relation to white counterparts, namely in the food site’s popular Test Kitchen videos.
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The Instagram photo, which had been previously deleted, received some attention in the past but had gone largely unreported. Just this past week, writer and wine professional Tammie Teclemariam tweeted a screenshot of the image of Rapoport and his wife in brownface, dressed in what they considered to be stereotypical New York Puerto Rican dress. Shubuck had captioned the photo “Boricua,” a term referring to a person of Puerto Rican descent, and also calls her husband “Papi” in the original post.
Rapoport announced his resignation publicly via an Instagram post yesterday in which the 50-year-old editor promised to “reflect on his work as a human being and to allow Bon Appétit to get to a better place.” He goes on to admit wrongdoing, “from an ill-conceived Halloween costume 16 years ago to my blind spots as an editor, I have not championed an inclusive vision.”
The debacle began last week when Illyanna Maisonet, a freelance Puerto Rican food writer, posted a direct-message exchange between her and Rapoport regarding BA’s decision to reject a story pitch, prompting a confession from Rapoport that there was not a concerted effort to cover Puerto Rican cuisine.
Shortly thereafter, the Halloween photo surfaced on Twitter along with a damning Instagram post from BA Assistant Editor Sohla El-Waylly who wrote, “In reality, currently only white editors are paid for their video appearances. None of the people of color have been compensated for their appearances.” These moves and others have been corroborated by staffers and freelancers, many of whom have called for Rapoport to resign. Amid these cries of unfair treatment, Matt Duckor, the VP of programming lifestyle who heads BA’s video team, has taken responsibility for the flawed system and vowed to”create a more equitable one that values all employees, whether it be for their writing, recipe development, or video work.”
Rapoport’s highly public exit follows a week of global protests on behalf of racial justice in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. Just a few days ago, New York Times’ Editorial Page Editor James Bennet stepped down after greenlighting an op-ed calling for military policing of the Black Lives Matter protests by Republican senator, Tom Cotton—a move seen by many as potentially dangerous to the physical safety of Black journalists and civilians alike.
Another prominent white food writer (and contributor to both Bon Appétit and NYT Cooking) Alison Roman, also recently came under fire after attacking two contemporaries and women of color, Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo, for their work in the food and lifestyle space. Like Rapoport, a questionable Halloween costume of Roman’s surfaced this week in which the white food writer appears to be dressed as a “Chola” (women of Mexican-America descent). Roman maintains the costume was, in fact, a “San Francisco spin” on late singer Amy Winehouse.
Header image courtesy of Jared Siskin / Getty Images.