Employees at Teen Vogue have sent a letter to publisher Condé Nast, protesting against the hiring of Alexi McCammond as editor-in-chief of the influential magazine.
It follows the resurfacing earlier this week of a series of racist tweets written by McCammond 10 years ago.
The tweets, dating from 2011 when McCammond was a student, were shared publicly by journalist Diana Tsui on Monday.
“Outdone by [an] Asian #whatsnew,” read one.
“Now Googling how to not wake up with swollen, Asian eyes,” read another.
Another said: “Give me a 2/10 on my chem problem, cross out all of my work and don’t explain what I did wrong … thanks a lot stupid Asian T.A [teaching assistant] you’re great.”
McCammond was formerly a reporter for the politics website Axios. She found herself in the national spotlight last month, when her relationship with TJ Ducklo was at the centre of a scandal over his behaviour which led him to resign as a communications aide to Joe Biden.
McCammond apologised for the tweets in 2019, when they were first publicised.
The tweets have returned to prominence at a time when hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the increase, in large part due to racist attitudes to the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China. Last year, 2,500 such incidents were reported.
Phillip Lim, a fashion designer, recently told the Guardian: “It feels like open season to take out our frustration on the Asian community.”
Influencer Susie Bubble said: “I’ve personally had people move away from me on [public transport] when I come onboard, and when I was on the bus with my daughter someone said, ‘You should stay at home with her.’ Anecdotally speaking, I’ve had many friends that have had horrible things said to them on the street from complete strangers ranging from ‘you did this’ to ‘Go back home’.”
On Tuesday, 20 Teen Vogue staffers used Instagram to say: “We’ve heard the concerns of our readers and we stand with you,” they said. “In a moment of historically high anti Asian violence … we as the staff of Teen Vogue fully reject those sentiments. We are hopeful that an internal conversation will prove fruitful in maintaining the integrity granted to us by our audience.”
Under the leadership of Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Teen Vogue became an outlier in its field, known for publishing outspoken views on the presidency of Donald Trump, supporting Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and policy priorities including universal healthcare and the Green New Deal, and leading public conversation around race and trans rights.
In January, it was announced that Wagner was leaving to edit the Cut.
Contacted for comment about McCammond’s tweets, Condé Nast said: “Alexi McCammond was appointed editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue because of the values, inclusivity and depth she has displayed through her journalism.
“Throughout her career she has dedicated herself to being a champion for marginalised voices. Two years ago she took responsibility for her social media history and apologised.”
The publisher also cited a note from McCammond to staff members which said: “I’m beyond sorry for what you have experienced over the last 24 hours because of me.
“You’ve seen some offensive, idiotic tweets from when I was a teenager that perpetuated harmful and racist stereotypes about Asian Americans. I apologised for them years ago, but I want to be clear today: I apologise deeply to all of you for the pain this has caused.
“There’s no excuse for language like that. I am determined to use the lessons I’ve learned as a journalist to advocate for a more diverse and equitable world. Those tweets aren’t who I am, but I understand that I have lost some of your trust, and will work doubly hard to earn it back.
“I want you to know I am committed to amplifying [Asian American] voices across our platforms, and building upon the groundbreaking, inclusive work this title is known for the world over.”
McCammond is due to start on 24 March.