On June 8, the editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit magazine, Adam Rapoport, was forced to resign from his position following the resurfacing of this photo featuring Rapoport and his wife in a stereotypical Puerto Rican costume.
In Halloween of 2004, Rapoport and his wife, Simone Shubuck, dressed up as Puerto Ricans. It wasn’t until 2013 that the photo was posted on Twitter, and it took up to 2020 for it to become widespread. Although the photo has surfaced in the past, its re-emergence at this time has led to those at Bon Appétit voicing their discontent with the structural racism present in their jobs.
The incident began with Rapoport denying the publication of freelance food writer Illyanna Maisonet’s piece regarding Puerto Rican cuisine. While Maisonet posted screenshots of the exchange, she asked why her request had been rejected. Rapoport claimed that the article lacked novelty since although the magazine lacked representation, New York (where the magazine is based) had plenty of it. However, despite this, white senior editor Molly Baz was able to publish a story about a Puerto Rican dish the next month. Food journalist Tammie Teclemariam found this image of Rapoport on his wife’s Twitter page and retweeted it, asking why Rapoport does not write about Puerto Rican food himself. In a subsequent meeting, he was requested to resign from his position.
Alex Lau, an ex-food photographer for Bon Appétit also Tweeted: “Yes, I left BA for multiple reasons, but one of the main reasons was that white leadership refused to make changes that my BIPOC coworkers and I constantly pushed for.”
Assistant editor and chef Sohla El-Waylly has been the most vocal in the exchange, mentioning that she has been “pushed in front of video as a display of diversity.” She also accuses that while her white counterparts are compensated for video appearances, she and other people of colour have not been. The magazine’s publisher Condé Nast denied the claim on Twitter in the following statement:
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.
Rapoport has since released a statement on Instagram following his resignation, stating his reason for stepping down from his position was “to reflect on the work that I need to do as a human being and to allow Bon Appétit to get to a better place.”
Since Rapoport’s resignation, more of El-Waylly’s colleagues at Bon Appétit have been demanding equal pay for their coworkers. The magazine states that they are taking advantage of current events to expose the racist underbelly of the food world and hopefully make long-term changes to ensure equal representation.