Claire Saffitz Apologised For Contributing To Toxicity And Racism At Bon Appétit After It Was Revealed BIPOC Staff Aren't Paid For Video Appearances

    "I didn't ask questions about Sohla or Gaby's compensation when I invited them to appear in Gourmet Makes," Claire wrote on Instagram.

    The editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit, Adam Rapoport, announced his resignation this week after a photo of him wearing brownface resurfaced online, prompting staff to call out instances of systemic racism at the publication.

    Jemal Countess / Getty Images

    After the photo began circulating on social media, assistant food editor Sohla El-Waylly posted a series of Instagram stories saying she had been "pushed in front of video as a display of diversity", but was never actually paid for her appearances.

    Bon Appétit

    "I was hired as an assistant editor at $50k to assist mostly white editors with significantly less experience than me," she wrote at the time. "In reality, currently only white editors are paid for their video appearances. None of the people of colour have been compensated."

    She later told BuzzFeed News that she was asked to "stand in the background of photo shoots and video shoots", and that it made her feel "super uncomfortable".

    In response to the accusations, other members of Bon Appétit staff said they wouldn't appear in videos on the magazine's hugely popular YouTube channel until the publication agreed to pay BIPOC staffers fairly.

    Bon Appétit

    "It is insane that Sohla is not compensated for videos and I can't contribute as a host until that changes," Carla Lalli Music wrote in an Instagram story.

    Staff members Molly Baz and Alex Delany also addressed the situation on Instagram, and Claire Saffitz — host of the YouTube channel's series Gourmet Makes — said she had requested that the publication not release any of the videos she had already filmed with them until the situation was resolved.

    Now Claire has posted a lengthy statement to her Instagram, acknowledging her complicity in "knowingly or unknowingly" contributing to the publication's "toxic culture".

    Bon Appétit

    "The point of this post is not to perform an apology or save face," she wrote. "Rather, it's about complicity and accountability. I am writing this not to or for fans, but to and for my colleagues of colour."

    She went on to say that, when she was employed at the publication, she was "to some degree aware of the toxic, racist, secretive, and ultra-competitive environment" she worked in.

    Bon Appétit

    "I see now that I also missed a lot," Claire wrote. "Only now do I recognise the extent of your pain and anger — a pain I can never know or experience, and that I knowingly or unknowingly contributed to."

    She continued: "My whiteness (but also my class position, educational background, etc.) helped me enter and succeed in a toxic system without having to acknowledge or challenge the system itself."

    "I didn't ask questions about Sohla or Gaby's compensation when I invited them to appear in Gourmet Makes," Claire went on, referencing Bon Appétit test kitchen manager Gaby Melian, who appears in a huge number of videos on the channel.

    Bon Appétit

    "I feel deeply shitty about this," Claire concluded, "but I know that my feelings are not important at this moment. What is important is how I do the work of repair."

    In a statement on the Bon Appétit website on Wednesday, current staff members at the publication apologised for being complicit in racism, and promised to do better.

    Our mastheads have been far too white for far too long. As a result, the recipes, stories, and people we’ve highlighted have too often come from a white-centric viewpoint. ... Many new BIPOC hires have been in entry-level positions with little power, and we will be looking to accelerate their career advancement and pay. Black staffers have been saddled with contributing racial education to our staffs and appearing in editorial and promotional photo shoots to make our brands seem more diverse. We haven’t properly learned from or taken ownership of our mistakes. But things are going to change.

    You can read the Bon Appétit staff's statement in full here, and Claire's full Instagram post here.

    Ellie Bate is a celebrity reporter and talent coordinator at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

    Contact Ellie Bate at eleanor.bate@buzzfeed.com.

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here