Bon Appétit editor in chief resigns over racist photo and accusations of editorial discrimination

Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appétit magazine, stepped down on Monday evening, as first reported by The New York Times. His resignation came after a 2013 Instagram photo of Rapoport and his wife dressed in brownface was recirculated on Twitter by Tammie Teclemariam, a freelance food and drinks writer.

“I am stepping down as editor of Bon Appétit to reflect on the work I need to do as a human being and to allow Bon Appétit to get to a better place,” Rapport wrote, on Instagram. 

Bon Appetit editor Adam Rapoport resigns (June 2020)

Instagram / Rapoport

Former Bon Appétit editor Adam Rapoport

It soon became clear that the photograph was part of what some current and former employees have described as a larger, equally troubling pattern. Throughout the day, Bon Appétit staffers and freelancers shared their own stories on social media, suggesting that discriminatory practices had long been part of the culture under Rapaport, with writers and editors of color receiving unequal pay and being denied exposure and access to professional advancement

Earlier this month, Rapoport penned a brief editor’s letter about the magazine’s efforts to reckon with the current moment, including the epidemic of police violence against Black Americans (an editorial that was widely panned for its superficial tone). His resignation comes amid a reckoning in media writ large, as journalists of color and their colleagues speak out against workplace prejudice and damaging editorial omissions. 

The last three posts to Rapoport’s Instagram account told a story in miniature. On May 31, he posted an image of the slogan “All food is political,” with a link to his editor’s letter. On June 2, he posted a wordless black square, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter—part of a larger internet phenomenon that some criticized as being performative and facile. Then, on Monday evening, he posted his resignation notice over several pages. 

For Rapoport, things unfolded quickly. But for many in food media, as in other industries across the country, change has been a painfully slow process. This publication made its own commitments in a letter to readers last week, and pledged, among other priorities, to hire more editors and writers of color to help us shape our coverage.