Podcast host Recho Omondi has apologized for utilizing antisemitic slurs in a current interview with Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine Cohen. We spoke to specialists about why the feedback had been damaging.
Designer Recho Omondi launched the style podcast The Cutting Room Floor in 2018, and has since used the platform to sort out necessary matters within the business. From myths about recycling clothes to the required evolution of designers, every episode is full of Omondi’s signature well-informed style commentary. The podcast is beloved by listeners however not broadly recognized, with it averaging 10,000 listeners per episode, in keeping with The Business of Fashion. Because of this it was shocking to some that Leandra Medine Cohen, founding father of now-ceased style publication Man Repeller, selected Omondi’s podcast for her first interview about shutting down the positioning.
The episode containing the Medina interview, “The Tanning of America,” was launched on July 7. The episode touched on Medine Cohen’s choice to finish Man Repeller abruptly last year, the backlash she confronted for pandemic layoffs (certainly one of which was to a senior Black worker) and the alleged hostile work setting on the publication. “The Tanning of America” has garnered new ranges of consideration for The Slicing Room Flooring — this time, due to its informal but unmistakable antisemitism.
The podcast episode targeted on Medine Cohen’s privilege, with quotes of her saying that rising up, she thought she was on “the brink of being homeless” till she realized final summer time that she had all the time been rich. This felt notably tone deaf at a time when many individuals are truly dealing with homelessness, and her choice to all of the sudden shutter Man Repeller left a few of her workers with out a job in the course of a worldwide pandemic. Her statements circulated across the web, and a few media shops responded with items like one which got here from The Reduce titled Upper East Sider Realizes She’s Privileged. Briefly, the interview didn’t go nicely.
The episode’s dialog was damaged up by Omondi’s private narrative dialogue, the place she made some feedback about Medine Cohen because it pertains to her being Jewish. She began off the podcast by saying, “This nation was based by racist white males, and for the aim of this episode it’s necessary to notice that a lot of these white males, slaveowners, and many others., had been additionally Jewish and likewise noticed Blacks as lower than human.”
On the episode’s finish, Omondi used Jewish stereotypes to argue that Medine Cohen has not been oppressed. “I couldn’t abdomen one other white assimilated Jewish American Princess who’s wildly privileged however thinks she’s oppressed,” she mentioned. “On the finish of the day you guys are going to get your nostril jobs and your keratin remedies and alter your final identify from Ralph Lifshitz to Ralph Lauren and you’ll be tremendous.”
Ben Gross sales, a author for the Jewish Telegraphic Company, wrote about his reaction to the podcast on July 12, saying he was stunned at how “her interview was bookended by antisemitism.”
“The language Omondi used jumped out at me straight away,” Gross sales tells FASHION. “Her false declare about Jewish slave owners has been debunked, and her feedback on nostril jobs and Medine Cohen being a ‘Jewish American Princess’ echoed age-old stereotypes about Jews being materialistic.”
Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, a Jewish journalist, additionally Tweeted her response to the podcast on July 12, stating that there have been “antisemitic canine whistles,” and saying that Omondi “shamelessly equates Jewishness with wealth, energy & privilege.” She known as out publications for not together with this of their preliminary protection of the episode.
The day after the podcast was uploaded, Omondi posted to her Instagram Story: “I wish to acknowledge that I perceive Leandra doesn’t characterize ALL Jewish individuals or the huge tradition in anyway.” She added that she would block individuals who posted hateful feedback about Jewish individuals on her account.
As criticisms surrounding her podcast remarks grew, Omondi edited and re-uploaded the episode with out the antisemitic feedback, and on July 20, she launched an official apology by way of The Slicing Room Flooring. In her apology, Omondi mentioned she painted Jewish individuals with “one large, broad stroke” and that she didn’t perceive the nuances of the tradition. She mentioned when utilizing the time period “Jewish American Princess,” she didn’t notice it was a slur and likened it extra to the time period “airhead.”
Anna Shternshis, director of the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Research on the College of Toronto, says the prejudices enveloped in phrases like “Jewish American Princess” are deep-rooted.
“’Jewish American Princess’ is a picture of a younger lady who’s all about materialistic items, who is barely fascinated with monetary advantages to herself, who doesn’t have real emotions, who’s all superficial. [She is] very fascinated with her appears, however not fascinated with something that goes past a robust place on this planet,” she tells FASHION.
These stereotypes date again to when Jewish immigrants had been struggling to assimilate to American tradition on the finish of the nineteenth century. Because of their difficulties in attempting to regulate, Jewish individuals used self-deprecating phrases like “Jewish American Princess” as a means of “laughing at our personal misfortunes,” Shternshis explains.
In her apology, Omondi mentioned she appreciated those that known as her out on her feedback. “I’m not going to take a seat right here and act like I do know all the things about Jewish tradition as a result of I’m studying about it, however, , I’m not ashamed to say after I fucked up. I’m not ashamed to study extra.” On the time of publishing, Medine Cohen has not responded publicly to the podcast episode or Omondi’s apology.
There are lots of people who don’t know so much in regards to the Jewish group, and due to this fact don’t notice they’re perpetuating antisemitic concepts, says Gross sales. “There’s been a preferred false impression in American society that each one Jews are white and wealthy, which was by no means the case however which feeds into antisemitism,” he explains.
The scenario finally serves as an necessary reminder of the unconscious biases all of us maintain. “I hope all listeners, Jewish and never, will take away that all of us have blind spots, and all have extra to study teams whose experiences we don’t share or totally perceive,” says Gross sales.