A new report lays out some of the specific ways in which Anna Wintour has cultivated a toxic, racist workplace for Black women and other employees of color during her 30-plus years as Vogue’s editor in chief.
Writing for The New York Times, media reporter Edmund Lee spoke with a number of Black journalists who’ve worked with the fashion industry titan over the years, including current and former Vogue staff. The insiders told Lee that Wintour has consistently “sidelined and tokenized women of color, especially Black women,” since becoming the Condé Nast brand’s editor in chief in 1988, packing her masthead with individuals who are “thin and white, typically from a wealthy family and educated at elite schools” while pushing “white, eurocentric notions of beauty” within the magazine’s pages.
Among other details, Lee reports that Wintour:
- skipped a big, company-wide meeting about race and racism in June, despite being the head Condé Nast’s diversity and inclusion council
- got angry at Karlie Kloss after the model, who is white, publicly apologized for participating in a culturally appropriative 2017 Vogue spread
- used racist language to describe her thoughts on a 2017 Patrick Demarchelier photoshoot featuring dark-skinned models wearing head scarves: “Don’t mean to use an inappropriate word, but pica ninny came to mind”
- instructed Condé Nast’s social media editors to post more content than usual in order to push down a Bon Appétit post featuring a quote from freelancer Priya Krishna about dealing with racism from white editors
Junior-level Black women employees have frequently been tasked with providing feedback on various shoots for no extra pay. They’ve also been invited to join key meetings with advertisers and cover stars in order to project an image of diversity that simply doesn’t exist among the magazine’s upper management.
The anonymous Black journalists told Lee that some of Wintour’s “best known lieutenants” were as culpable as their leader: contributing editor Phyllis Posnick allegedly blamed Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential victory on Black Americans (“I knew this was going to happen. It’s all the Blacks’ fault. They didn’t vote.”), and former creative director Grace Coddington reportedly said that “Black people are late everywhere” after Rihanna arrived late to a Vogue event.
Eleven of Lee’s sources said that Wintour, who also oversees all of Condé Nast’s editorial brands since becoming the company’s artistic director in 2013, should step down from both of her posts. Imagine if she did! That reported $2 annual million salary of hers would probably do wonders to help all of the struggling, underpaid staffers beneath her, hundreds of whom were laid off or furloughed earlier this year due to covid-related budget cuts.