Brownface Photo Prompts Exit of Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief

Adam Rapoport resigns after facing abundant criticism

Ellie Awards 2019
Adam Rapoport speaks onstage during the Ellie Awards 2019 at Brooklyn Steel on March 14, 2019 in New York City.
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for ASME

This week is still young, but so far it has abounded with a spirit of transparency and a reckoning with past misdeeds in the world of media. The latest iteration of that reckoning has led to the resignation of a prominent editor over charges that he created a toxic work environment. The unearthing of a photo of that same editor in brownface didn’t help matters, either.

The editor in question is Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport, who resigned on Monday. As Marina Fang at HuffPost reports, journalist Tammie Teclemariam discovered a photo of Rapoport wearing brownface in a photo posted to Instagram in 2013, which led to a very understandable outcry from the food and media communities.

As Madeleine Davies at Eater reports, the photo opened the door to larger questions about the publication’s corporate culture and its handling of racial inequality. This included the revelation from editor Sohla El-Waylly that she had not been paid for on-camera appearances, unlike her white colleagues.

A number of other writers and editors also raised issues with the publication’s handling of racial matters, putting the spotlight on a work environment that was frequently hostile to writers of color.

Later that day, Rapoport announced his resignation via a statement on Instagram:

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 put the editors of BA.

The brownface photo may have been what set Rapoport’s resignation into motion, but the issues that it unearthed had been present for far longer — making this particular reckoning feel like one that had been coming for a while.

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