Bon Appétit Editor in Chief Resigns After Brownface Photo Surfaces and Allegations of Discrimination Mount

Refinery29 global EIC and co-founder also steps down

Adam Rapoport resigned as editor in chief of Bon Appétit after backlash of the brand's working environment. Getty Images
Headshot of Sara Jerde

Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appétit, has resigned after claims of unfair working conditions and the surfacing of a photo of Rapoport in brownface online.
Rapoport’s swift undoing began earlier today when Bon Appétit assistant food editor Sohla El-Waylly took to her Instagram account to deride Rapoport’s costume and characterize his behavior as a “symptom” of the “systematic racism” that “runs rampant” at Bon Appétit publisher Condé Nast.
Without addressing the photograph or specific allegations levied against the publisher, Condé Nast said in a statement that it has a “zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination and harassment in any forms.”
“We take the well-being of our employees seriously and prioritize a people-first approach to our culture,” the statement said.
El-Waylly further divulged that the brand only paid white editors for video appearances and called for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) to be given the same compensation, as well as fair titles and salaries.
Other former and current BA staffers shared El-Waylly’s post and offered more insight about the brand’s working conditions and culture.


Rapoport said in his own personal Instagram post that he was stepping down to allow the magazine “to get to a better place” and apologized for his behavior.
“From an extremely ill-conceived Halloween costume 16 years ago to my blind spots as an editor, I’ve not championed an inclusive vision,” he wrote.
Rapoport had led the title since 2011, moving from another Condé Nast brand, GQ, where he had been style editor. Rapoport, along with the rest of the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, had become a household name, growing its reach in recent years through a new OTT channel and popular YouTube series. The team was named as part of Adweek’s 2020 Creative 100, published earlier today. Last month, Bon Appétit won four National Magazine Awards, including general excellence in the lifestyle category.
Christene Barberich, global editor in chief and co-founder of Refinery29, also stepped down today after former staffers shared their own toxic and unfair experiences working for the brand.
“It’s time for a new generation of leadership that’s truly reflective of the diversity of our audience with divergent points of view, one that builds and expands on our original mission to amplify and celebrate a wide range of voices, perspectives, and stories … that need and deserve to be told,” she wrote in a personal Instagram post.


@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.