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Anna Wintour apologizes to black Vogue staffers in email: 'I take full responsibility'

The editor and creative director's email comes as other media brands have made leadership changes in the wake of social upheaval over racial injustice.
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Anna Wintour has famously been at the helm of Vogue since 1988.Edward Berthelot / WireImage
/ Source: TODAY

Anna Wintour is trying to be accountable for her shortcomings as editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine in the wake of scrutiny against media brands for their lack of racial diversity.

In an email obtained by TODAY, Wintour, who has been at the helm of the fashion publication since 1988, said she wanted to start "by acknowledging your feelings and expressing my empathy towards what so many of you are going through: sadness, hurt, and anger too."

"I want to say this especially to the Black members of our team — I can only imagine what these days have been like," she said in the email sent to Vogue staffers on June 9. "But I also know that the hurt, and violence, and injustice we’re seeing and talking about have been around for a long time. Recognizing it and doing something about it is overdue."

Anna Wintour, 2019 Met Gala, red carpet, Anna Wintour Met Gala
"I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators," Wintour wrote in the email.Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

Wintour's email comes on the heels of other legacy media brands making leadership changes at the top of their mastheads in the wake of social upheaval over racial injustice.

Adam Rapoport, the editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit, also part of media conglomerate Condé Nast, resigned amid allegations that the magazine discriminated against people of color. In a statement, Rapoport said he needed "to reflect on the work that I need to do as a human being and ... allow Bon Appétit to get to a better place."

"This is a historic and heartbreaking moment for our country and it should be a time of listening, reflection, and humility for those of us in positions of privilege and authority," Wintour added in her letter. "It should also be a time of action and commitments. On a corporate level, work is being done to support organizations in a real way. These actions will be announced as soon as possible."

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Adam Rapoport, former editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit, in April 2010Nick Hunt / Patrick McMullan / Getty Images

Some took to social media to point out that the problem wasn't specific to Bon Appétit alone, but the entire corporate culture at Condé Nast. In addition to her duties at Vogue, Wintour has been the creative director of Condé Nast since 2013.

"Just a reminder that this isn't solely a BA problem," tweeted former Bon Appétit photographer Alex Lau. "This is a conde nast problem. blame roger moore, blame anna wintour, blame all of the people in conde corporate that you've never heard of. they are responsible for creating this culture."

Yashar Ali retweeted Lau, adding, "As I've said before, under Anna Wintour's leadership, Vogue has engaged in stunning acts of overt and cover racism."

"Let's not forget, it took her 30 years to hire a black photographer to photograph the cover of Vogue ... and Beyonce made that happen. A major hypocrite."

Hamish Bowles and Anna Wintour
Hamish Bowles and Anna Wintour attend The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media 2017 in New York City.Todd Williamson / Getty Images

Wintour's email acknowledges her shortcomings in raising the voices of people of color in her newsroom.

"I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators," Wintour said. "We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes."

The note also comes after the New York Times made an announcement earlier this week that editorial page editor James Bennet had resigned after his department published a widely criticized opinion article written by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

Cotton's article, titled "Send in the Troops," incited a backlash not just from readers, but from the Times' own journalists. Many within the newsroom publicly stated that the article, which defended the use of military action to quell protests, put the lives of black journalists employed at the company in danger.

"It can’t be easy to be a Black employee at Vogue, and there are too few of you," Wintour stressed in her email. "I know that it is not enough to say we will do better, but we will — and please know that I value your voices and responses as we move forward. I am listening and would like to hear your feedback and your advice if you would like to share either. I am proud of the content we have published on our site over these past few days but I also know that there is much more work to do."