Last week, after Rapoport wrote a post for the Bon Appétit website about the protests sparked by George Floyd’s death, food writer Korsha Wilson took to Twitter and accused the company of gaslighting women of color. On Monday, many more accusations emerged online, sparked in part by a 2013 Instagram photo of Rapoport in brown face for Halloween.
By the end of a day in which the food media world had been filled with discussions about the magazine’s culture and the inclusion or lack of diverse voices in the industry, several of Bon Appétit’s staff members had either said publicly that they would stop appearing in the magazine’s popular videos until changes were made or posted that they had called for his resignation.
On Monday evening, Rapoport announced his resignation. “I am stepping down as editor in chief of Bon Appétit to reflect on the work that I need to do as a human being and allow Bon Appétit to get to a better place,” Rapoport posted on his Instagram.
The controversy brings new attention to the problem of representation in food media. And it will also be a blow for the magazine and Condé Nast, which had recently counted Bon Appétit as a surprise success story, especially with the younger audiences magazines are desperate for.
Last month, Bon Appétit won four awards at the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine awards including general excellence for service and lifestyle. Beyond the print magazine, the brand has grown a successful YouTube channel.
“As a global media company, Condé Nast is dedicated to creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace. We have 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,” said Condé Nast chief communications officer Joe Libonati.
Among the magazine staffers who called out Rapoport was assistant food editor Sohla El-Waylly. In a Story on her Instagram Monday, El-Waylly said she is only making $50,000 and said only white editors were paid to appear in the magazine’s videos, while she was not despite an increasing presence in the videos and a number of fans.
Bon Appétit contributor Priya Krishna retweeted the Instagram post of Rapoport in brown face and wrote, “This is f—ked 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.”
Senior food editor Molly Baz, a star of the YouTube channel, said in an Instagram story that she will not appear in videos until the company guarantees equal pay.
Alex Lau, a former staff photographer, tweeted that one of the reasons he left Bon Appétit was the lack of support for people of color and a problem getting leadership to listen about issues of representation.
Condé Nast appointed Rapoport editor in chief of Bon Appétit in 2010. He was previously style editor at GQ and had been working at the magazine conglomerate since 2000.
Rapoport did not respond to a request for comment.
Correction: A previous version of this story misattributed to Claire Saffitz a quote that was not hers.