In the wake of the murder of George Floyd on May 25, tens of thousands have taken to the streets in the largest simultaneous nationwide demonstrations against racism that this county has ever seen.
The aftershocks have been felt across a wide range of fields, from journalism and fashion to politics and pop culture. Dozens of prominent individuals and institutions have been called out for alleged racist past deeds, including sports stars and CEOs, Instagrammers and influencers, TV shows and classic movies, and restaurateurs and celebrity chefs. From Karlie Kloss to the Vanderpump Rules cast to Paw Patrol to Anna Wintour, here is a tally of the most recent casualties. We will update the list as it grows.
Barbara Fedida: The ABC News VP is on administrative leave after a Huffington Post story detailed a history of racist and abusive comments various former colleagues attributed to Fedida. According to several accounts, when Good Morning America host Robin Roberts wanted more money as part of a contract renewal, Fedida retorted that it wasn’t like the network was asking Roberts to “pick cotton.” Walt Disney Television is reportedly investigating the claims.
Claudia Eller: The Variety EIC seemed to be on the right track when she wrote an op-ed about how she and other editors haven’t done a good enough job of ensuring that their newsrooms are diverse, but then the tweeting started. Writer Piya Sinha-Roy, criticized Eller’s op-ed, and said she’s pointed out the lack of diversity years ago, and Eller responded by calling Sinha-Roy “bitter.” Eller was placed on leave of absence.
Derek Blasberg: The journalist that the New York Times once called “the Truman Capote of his generation” is now being called out for his connections to Ivanka Trump and Russian Oligarchs after he recently posted a photo of himself on Instagram at a protest for George Floyd, along with this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Wunderkind Tavi Genvinson (who also called out Karlie Kloss for her connection to the Trumps) once again piped up, commenting, “Talk to your neo fascist friends.” After other commenters piled on with similar sentiments, Blasberg defriended Ivanka.
Leandra Cohen: Leandra Medine Cohen has announced she will be “stepping back” from Man Repeller, the fashion and lifestyle website she founded ten years ago, following criticisms of the site’s lack of diversity in both content and staff. Cohen had previously published an article in response to the George Floyd protests on June 1 titled “Where We Go From Here: A Message for the MR Community,” in which she promised to feature more underrepresented voices and “not remain silent in the face of police brutality and white supremacy.” However, readers called out Cohen for failing to address the specific ways in which Man Repeller had failed to promote inclusivity, including laying off Crystal Anderson, a Black staffer, at the beginning of the pandemic. Cohen released a follow-up article, “I Owe You Better: A Commitment to the Future,” on June 4, but critics continued to point out its tone-deaf nature. One week later, Cohen shared her plans to step back via Instagram, writing, “Man Repeller was founded to celebrate self expression in all of its forms but it has become clear that I’ve failed to deliver on this mission.”
The Poetry Foundation’s Top Brass: On June 10, the Poetry Foundation announced the resignation of president Henry Bienen and board chair Willard Bunn III, who have faced backlash for the Foundation’s statement on Black Lives Matter and overall lack of inclusivity. Over 1,800 poets, educators, and readers signed an open letter and list of demands, calling the statement “worse than the bare minimum” and advocating for a more diverse leadership and greater financial support allocated to programming that engages with marginalized populations.
James Bennet: The now-former editor of the New York Times editorial page set off a firestorm in his rarified newsroom by running an inflammatory op-ed by Republican Senator Tom Cotton advocating the use of military force to suppress protests. Staffers argued that Cotton’s ideas should have been more appropriately handled in a reported news story rather than granted the platform of an unfiltered op-ed. On June 7, Bennet, who had also been responsible for the hire of controversial conservative writer Bari Weiss, resigned.
Christene Barberich: Christene Barberich served as the top editor of Refinery 29, the fashion and lifestyle website she co-founded 15 years ago, until stepping down on June 8. The announcement came after a number of former employees shared posts on social media detailing their experiences of discrimination at the company. “I’ve read and taken in the raw and personal accounts of Black women and women of color regarding their experiences inside our company at Refinery29,” Barberich wrote on Instagram.
Adam Rapoport: A photo of Rapoport dressed as his idea of a “Puerto Rican” Halloween costume may have been the straw that broke the back of his tenure as editor-in-chief at Bon Appétit, but the pic was just a symptom of a far larger problem, dozens of current and former workers say. They allege a years-long pattern of mistreatment, underpayment, and underrepresentation of BIPOC. “I am the only Black woman on staff. He treats me like the help,” his assistant told Business Insider. He resigned on June 8.
Anna Wintour: Anna Wintour, the longtime editor-in-chief of Vogue was called out by tenured fashion editor André Leon Talley in his recently released his memoir The Chiffon Trenches, in which he says (very gently) that he often felt dismissed by Wintour because of his race. Wintour herself took to Twitter to admit there has been “hurtful and intolerant mistakes” at the magazine while she was at the helm and a failure to find “enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers, and other creators.”
Stan Wischnowski: When the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a headline that read “Buildings Matter, Too,” dozens of journalists staged a sick-out and others joined a “byline strike” in solidarity. A group of 50 journalists of color co-signed an open letter decrying other forms of bias at the institution. The paper’s publisher and CEO stepped in to offer an apology for the “offensive and inappropriate” and to confirm that the paper would to hire a more diverse workforce. Executive editor Stan Wischnowski, announced he would resign effective on June 12.
ZeroHedge: Google has blocked the far-right website ZeroHedge from its advertising platform, citing offensive remarks made in the comments section of stories about Black Lives Matter. In a statement to NBC News on June 16, a Google spokesperson wrote, “We have strict publisher policies that govern the content ads can run on and explicitly prohibit derogatory content that promotes hatred, intolerance, violence, or discrimination based on race from monetizing.” Google also issued a warning to the Federalist, which responded by taking their comments section down.
Stephane Bombet: After a photo, taken in 2011, of L.A. restaurateur Stephane Bombet in blackface resurfaced on June 10, the downtown restaurant Faith & Flower announced that Bombet will “step away” from his role as co-owner. This decision comes after Nic’s on Beverly removed Bombet from his position as operations manager and Shirley Chung of Ms. Chi’s in Culver City cut all ties with as well. The offending photo, which was found in a local photographer’s Facebook album, shows the restauranteur wearing a hat with faux dreadlocks, a gold-colored grill, and brown makeup smeared all over his face. Bombet claims he wore the costume because he wanted to dress up as his “hero” Lil Wayne. Bombet has since deleted his business Instagram account, @frenchfoody and now only has a personal account with no posts.
Shoddy Lynn: Shoddy Lynn, the founder of alt apparel label Dolls Kill, released a video apology on June 7 after blowback for an Instagram post showing a photograph of police in riot gear outside her store with the caption “Direct Action in its glory. #blacklivesmatter.” The brand has a long history of racist controversies, from selling “Goth Is White” hoodies to Native American headdresses.
Yael Aflalo: Aflalo, the founder of the sustainable fashion brand Reformation, has apologized after a former retail store assistant manager accused her of cultivating a racist corporate culture that harms Black employees. Elle Santiago said the company “consistently” passed her up for promotions and instead hired white women with the “same or less qualifications” instead. She also cited several examples related to Aflalo’s alleged racist attitudes regarding hiring Black models and interacting with Black employees. “You will never allow a black woman to sit at your table because then you wouldn’t be able to talk the way you all love to talk,” Santiago said in a social media post, after asking Aflalo to step down from her role as CEO. Santiago concluded by calling out Aflalo and Reformation as a whole for their attempts align themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Greg Glassman: In response to an Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation tweet declaring that “racism is a public health issue,” Crossfit CEO Greg Glassman tweeted, “It’s FLOYD-19.” Unamused francisees began cutting ties with the brand almost immediately. Responding to a Minneapolis gym owner who asked about why the brand hadn’t posted a statement about Floyd’s death Glassman said, “Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that it’s the white thing to do…” On Tuesday, Glassman announced he would resign.
Jen Gotch: Employees of Ban.do, the maker of whimsical iPhone covers, claimed that founder and chief creative officer Jen Gotch created a toxic culture, that including making racists remarks. Gotch announced on Instagram that she would be taking an immediate leave of absence.
Nancy Silverton and Michael Krikorian: Mozza chef-owner Nancy Silverton and her business partner, writer Michael Krikorian, whipped up an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that was criticized for comparing looters to “roaches” and calling COVID-19 “That Wuhan, China, bat thing.” Executive editor Norm Pearlstine issued a formal apology on June 6.
Audrey Gelman: On Thursday, the co-founder and CEO of the Wing, a co-working space catering to women, resigned after allegations of “systemic mistreatment of people of color” within the organization. The Wing had long been criticized for cultivating what many perceived as a cliqueish, exclusive community. Following the announcement of her departure, many workers staged a “digital walk out” posting identical messages to their personal social media accounts. “Simply put, the Wing doesn’t practice the intersectional feminism that it preaches to the rest of the world,” their statement read.
The “Dixie” in the Dixie Chicks: The Dixie Chicks have taken a lot of heat over the years, mostly from conservative country fans who don’t appreciate their politics. They likely angered that crowd once again when they announced on June 25 that they’re removing the Dixie from their name, and will now be known simply as the Chicks. A note on their website says simply, “We want to meet this moment.” Their new album, Gaslighter, is out July 17.
Jenna Marbles: The L.A.-based YouTuber announced on June 25 that she’s leaving the platform (at least for now) after fans took her to task for past offensive videos. Marbles (real name Jenna Mourey)—who once wore blackface to portray Nikki Minaj and also trafficked in anti-Asian stereotypes—says she’s “ashamed of things I’ve said and done in my past.”
Peter Hunziker: Reality TV star Peter Hunziker has been fired from Bravo’s Below Deck Mediterranean after he reshared a racist and misogynistic meme that featured an image of a naked Black woman in chains. Once the network discovered Hunziker’s post, Bravo released a statement on Instagram announcing the reality star’s termination and its plan to edit the show “to minimize his appearance for subsequent episodes.” Hunziker was the lead deckhand on Below Deck Mediterranean, which follows the lives of crew members who work aboard elite yachts. Only three episodes of the new season have aired, but going forward, Bravo and the production company 51 Minds say they plan to limit Hunziker’s presence on screen.
Abby Lee Miller: Former Dance Moms coach Abby Lee Miller apologized after Adriana Smith, the mother of season eight dancer Kamyrn Smith, accused the choreographer of addressing her and her daughter with racist comments while the show was being filmed. Smith posted on Instagram in response to Miller’s Blackout Tuesday square, which has since been deleted, describing a series of bigoted remarks Miller allegedly made. “A statement from her that sticks in my mind to this day during my time at DMS8 is ‘I know you grew up in the HOOD with only a box of crayons, but I grew up in the Country Club with a box of 64—don’t be stupid,’” Smith posted on June 2. Smith’s post also mentioned her daughter overhearing that the only reason Kamyrn was on the show was because they needed “a sprinkle of color.” Two days later, Miller posted an apology on her own Instagram promising to “educate [her]self, learn, grow, and do better.” Miller was released from federal prison in 2018 after being convicted of fraud and was gearing up to release a new show on Lifetime called Abby’s Virtual Dance Off, which has now been canceled according to USA Today.
Craig Gore: Craig Gore was a writer for an upcoming untitled Law and Order: SVU spinoff project starring SVU alum Christopher Meloni until incendiary Facebook posts threatening looters with violence were discovered on his page June 2. Gore posted photos of himself posing in front of what is his presumably his home in West Hollywood holding what appears to be a military-style gun captioned, “Curfew…” The post has since been deleted but Twitter users shared screenshots of the original post as well as some of the comments Gore wrote under his own post. “Sunset is being looted two blocks from me. You think I wont light motherf—-ers up who are trying to f— w/ my property I worked all my life for? Think again…” Gore said. Franchise executive producer Dick Wolf released a statement just a few hours later announcing the writer’s immediate termination. “I will not tolerate this conduct, especially during our hour of national grief,” Wolf said.
Alex Kompothecras: MTV has parted ways with one of the stars of its reality show Siesta Key, which is apparently like Laguna Beach but set near Sarasota, Florida. “We’ve made the decision to cut ties with Alex and are editing the current season to minimize his presence,” a spokesperson said in a statement on June 16. “He will not be in future seasons of Siesta Key.” Kompothecras, the son of the founder of 1-800-ASK-GARY, has been accused of posting racist things to social media in the past.
Aunt Jemima: After a 130-year run, Quaker Oats has announced it will be retiring the Aunt Jemima name and image. For years, people have pointed out that the syrup and pancake mix brand is rooted in the racist “mammy” stereotype of Black women and has origins in the minstrel song “Old Aunt Jemima.” The company says that the new packaging and brand name will be announced in fall 2020.
Uncle Ben: As Quaker Oats promises to change Aunt Jemima’s brand and logo, Uncle Ben’s is following suit. Mars, owner of the popular rice brand, wrote a statement on its website June 17 stating that “now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do.” According to the Uncle Ben’s website, the brand originated in 1946 and references a black farmer known as Uncle Ben who excelled in rice-growing. However, the imagery of the black farmer and the use of “uncle” has racial undertones. The brand reinforces the image of a servant and reflects a time when white Southerners addressed older blacks as “uncle” or “aunt” because they refused to say “Mr.” and “Mrs.,” according to a 2007 New York Times article.
Olivia Benson: On social media and at protests, calls to defund and abolish the police are becoming louder and louder. Yet, even as fictional cops such Detective Bunk Moreland from The Wire or Chase from Paw Patrol receive backlash, many thought one cop might escape criticism criticism: Olivia Benson. “The only cop I have any respect for is Olivia Benson,” one tweet reads. “nOt AlL cOpS…you’re right, Olivia Benson from SVU would NEVER,” reads another. But as one Rolling Stone writer argues, canceling cops mean all cops are canceled, even the heroic, selfless, and good ones like Benson. As EJ Dickson puts it, “revolution can’t be built on the back of the exceptions.”
The Dukes of Hazzard: Popular ’80s sitcom The Dukes of Hazzard may be pulled from Amazon’s video library as part of the streaming service’s content review initiative amid the Black Lives Matter protests. The TV series’ main characters, Bo And Luke Duke, are known for driving around in a car the “General Lee” that sports a Confederate flag on its hood. Due to the flag’s associations with white supremacy and slavery, its use has been banned from a number of public venues across the country in recent years (the latest being NASCAR races). The Dukes of Hazzard has previously been called out for its controversial material, but all seven seasons of the show are still currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video’s syndicate, IMDb TV.
Lea Michele: Actors who have worked with Lea Michelle have spoken out about the actress’s abusive behavior toward them. On June 1, in response to a tweet by Michele condemning the murder of George Floyd, Samantha Ware, who appeared with Michele on Glee, tweeted that the actress subjected her to various microaggressions, including threatening to “shit in [her] wig.” Among others, Heather Morris said that Michele was “unpleasant to work with,” and Gerard Canonico called her “nothing but a nightmare.” In response to the allegations, HelloFresh has dropped their partnership with Michele, and the actress announced that she will be “reaching out” to her former costars to address concerns.
Karlie Kloss: The supermodel, once part of Taylor Swift’s girl squad, and now a Trump-in-law, married to Jared Kushner’s brother Josh, came under fire after posting a call to end racism on Instagram that read, in part: “The world will say to you: We need to end racism. Start by healing it in your own family.” Rookie magazine founder Tavi Gevinson wasn’t having any of it. Gevinson fired back to Kloss, “You have a lot of nerve to make a show of championing girls’ coding and your other causes while only politely disowning your family in public” and “I can’t believe you’re not more embarrassed not just by them but YOUR decision to only publicly disown their politics in polite ways so you can have it both ways.” Gevinson’s post ignited a fury among followers who shared similar sentiments.
The Vanderpump Rules Cast: Four cast members from the Bravo reality series Vanderpump Rules were canned for past racist deeds and social media posts. “Bravo and Evolution Media confirmed today that Stassi Schroeder, Kristen Doute, Max Boyens, and Brett Caprioni will not be returning to Vanderpump Rules,” Bravo said in a statement on June 9. According to fellow cast member Faith Stowers, who is Black, Schroeder and Doute called the police to report her for a theft that was featured in the Daily Mail, even though the photo that accompanied the article clearly wasn’t Stowers. Boyens and Caprioni were fired after the sexist and racist things (including the n-word) they’d tweeted in years past were dredged up.
Alison Roman: Less than a month after making critical comments about two high-profile Asian women, Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo, food writer Alison Roman, the self-proclaimed “prom queen of the pandemic,” is facing backlash again for a resurfaced photo of her dressed in what some interpreted as an offensive costume. Journalist and Twitter personality Yashar Ali posted the photo, writing that the picture depicted Roman “dressed up as a Chola from a party.” The photo shows Roman wearing hoop earrings and a fake chest tattoo. Roman quickly responded to Ali’s tweet claiming that she was not aiming for Chola. “This was my ‘SF inspired Amy Winehouse’ costume for Halloween–it reads as culturally insensitive, and I was an idiot child who knew nothing about the world/how this would perceived and I’m sorry,” Roman tweeted. When asked why she drew the fake chest tattoo—something Winehouse did not have—Roman responded that she is “historically lazy and bad at costumes.” Twitter didn’t take well to Ali’s tweet; he’s since taken it down.
Aleksander Katai: The L.A. Galaxy released Serbian soccer star Aleksander Katai in early June, after his wife’s “racist and violent” Instagram posts were brought to management’s attention by protesting fans. In a series of three now-deleted Instagram posts, Tea Katai advocated for cops killing protesters, mocked the Black Lives Matter movement, and called protesters “disgusting cattle” in Serbian. After fans demonstrated outside the club’s stadium, Aleksander Katai took responsibility for his wife’s posts and added, “I strongly condemn white supremacy, racism and violence towards people of color,” Katai said. “Black lives matter.”
Lana Del Rey: On May 31, Del Rey shared videos of people protesting and looting at the protest. Fellow musicians such as Kehlani and Tinashe criticized her for identifying and endangering protestors. “It’s not about her don’t make it about her,” Kehlani tweeted. “It’s about furthering endangering the lives of Black people. It’s about responsibility.” Del Rey eventually deleted the video of the looting. Ten days earlier, Del Rey faced scrutiny for her comments about female artists of color. After being labeled racist for only calling out women of color in her Instagram post, Del Rey responded: “This is sad to make it about a WOC issue when I’m talking about my favorite singers.” Three days later, Del Rey continued to defend herself in a six-minute video. “I’m not the enemy, and I’m definitely not racist, so don’t get it twisted,” she said.
Cop TV Shows: After 32 seasons, Cops is canceled, according to Paramount Network. The true-crime reality TV show has long been controversial for its glorification of police and, specifically, the escalation of altercations with suspects, and given the current national protests against police brutality seemed particularly out of step. Two other police shows have also been affected: A&E canceled Live PD, and Spectrum postponed the season premiere of L.A.’s Finest to sometime later this year.
Hartley Sawyer: Actor Hartley Sawyer was fired from his role as Ralph Dibny on The CW series The Flash,after a number of his past offensive tweets were resurfaced by actress Skai Jackson. On June 5, Jackson tweeted screenshots of racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks Sawyer made from 2012 to 2014 with the caption, “Hartley Sawyer, you have been exposed…” Sawyer has not issued a statement about his alleged tweets.
The Word “Antebellum”: The country music trio known as Lady Antebellum announced on Thursday that it will change its name to simply Lady A, acknowledging the difficult historical memories invoked by the word ‘antebellum.’ In a social media statement, the group apologized for “blind spots” in their past. “We are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word,” the band wrote. “We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen, or unvalued.” After the announcement, a Black female singer who has been performing as Lady A for 20 years noted that the band never reached out to her about using the same name.
Junipero Serra: On June 20, activists used ropes to topple a statue of 18th century Franciscan friar Junipero Serra that stood on a pedestal near Olvera Street. Long celebrated as the father of the California mission system, Serra’s legacy also includes the attempted erasure of indigenous traditions and a campaign of terror against indigenous people who resisted converting to Catholicism. City of Ventura officials also announced in June that the statue of Serra that stands outside their City Hall will be relocated to a “non-public” location.
Gandhi: Protesters in England are petitioning to have a statue of the Mahatma removed from its perch in Leicester because of his “well-documented anti-Black racism.” The petition has garnered more than 5,000 signatures.
(CREDITS: Jenna Marbles: Wikimedia Commons; Junipero Serra: Wikimedia Commons; Confederate flag: Wikimedia Commons; Cops: Fox Television)
(Previous: Olivia Benson: NBC; Stephane Bombet: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage via Getty Images; Alex Kompothecras: MTV; Aunt Jemima: Quaker Oats
(Previous: Stassi Schroeder: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for iHeart Media; Aleksander Katai: Bob Levey/Getty Images; Adam Rapoport: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullen via Getty Images; Anna Wintour: Wikimedia Commons)
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