Carine Roitfeld apologizes for ‘tone-deaf’ comment about her black friend

Kanye West makes a quick trip to his office

At first glance, all I saw was the headline “Carine Roitfeld apologizes for tone-deaf Instagram” and I made some assumptions/guesses to myself about what she said. Let me tell you something: my guesses were small potatoes. When you learn what Carine Roitfeld originally said – the thing for which she’s apologizing – it will either make you laugh or cry. I laughed. It’s too absurd. As many of you know already, Roitfeld was and is a big deal in European fashion publishing. She was the long-time editor of Vogue Paris and she’s the current editor of CR Fashion Book. She can make or break careers in Europe. She’s also hilariously out of touch. She posted a photo of herself embracing Sudanese model Anok Yai. First of all, that alone is a visual representation of “I Have A Black Friend, Who Is Also My Prop,” which is not really ideal for this moment. Then in the comments, Roitfeld added this absolute GEM: “Anok is not a black woman, she is my friend.” I CANNOT. Omg.

French fashion legend Carine Roitfeld issued a public apology on Wednesday, after an Instagram post of her with black model Anok Yai was slammed as “tone-deaf,” “deeply offensive” and “self-serving.” Earlier this week, as millions of social media users showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the 65-year-old CR Fashion Book founder shared a photo of herself embracing the South Sudanese beauty.

Roitfeld captioned the image, “Miss you,” later adding a comment that read, “Anok is not a black woman, she is my friend.”

The post was later deleted, but not before Diet Prada shared it — along with a handful of comments from horrified Instagram users.

“Before the murder of George Floyd you never posted a black woman before,” one read. “Do not use her skin to make you feel better about the casual everyday racism you participate in. This is DEEPLY offensive.”

“She is most definitely A BLACK WOMAN and the fact you think you have to erase her race to make this point is part of the problem,” another captured comment read.

Roitfeld posted a lengthy apology Wednesday night. “I would like to sincerely apologize for my previous comments that were posted on social media. My intent was to express love and support for my dear friend, Anok Yai – not to deafen my message. I realize that I caused further pain and hurt to the very community that I was looking to support. I am learning from this experience and will continue to use my platform and voice to create opportunities for change. Anok you are a beautiful, strong and talented Black woman and I meant absolutely no harm. I only meant to send a message of support to you and your family.”

Calling her earlier post “a grave error,” Roitfeld concluded, “I vow to continue to focus my efforts and stand up to these injustices to support and further create opportunities that amplify the black community and their voices in the fight against systemic racism.”

[From Page Six]

It sometimes feels like one step forward, two steps back with white people in general, right? I’ve enjoyed seeing so many white folks demonstrate and protest with Black Lives Matters protesters. So many white peeps have been doing good – and sometimes imperfect, but still good – work online and in the real world. And then there are people like Carine Roitfeld. She’s not a black woman, SHE’S MY FRIEND! I mean… I guess it would never occur to Roitfeld that a woman could be both a black woman and a friend to a white woman. I imagine Anok was like “She’s not NOT white and she’s not my friend.”

Carine Restoin-Roitfeld arrives at the 2019 Harper's BAZAAR Celebration of 'ICONS By Carine Roitfeld' held at The Plaza Hotel on September 6, 2019 in Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States.

BoF 500 Gala

Photos courtesy of WENN, Instagram.

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39 Responses to “Carine Roitfeld apologizes for ‘tone-deaf’ comment about her black friend”

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  1. Darla says:

    I’m so upset I didn’t go into celebrity public relations. Is it too late do you think? These idiots are easy money. I have never seen such stupidity in my life.

    • Erinn says:

      HAHAH, RIGHT! I am constantly watching youtubers and celebrities apologize and just going “you moron, you should have said ___ instead and then gone and done ____ charity work”. It’s enraging that these people LIVE in that world and a ‘regular’ person like you or I can rattle off a better PR statement in seconds. HOW are they so bad at that?!

    • Esmom says:

      Lol. On a related note, I was on a trip to Iowa in January for the caucuses with a group of inner city, mostly minority high schoolers. It was right around the time that Pete Buttigieg was facing a lot of backlash around his relationship with the Black community in his city. One group of students went to a Pete event and the adult who was chaperoning them who happens to be a WOC, said Pete made a beeline for them afterwards for photos and she said she couldn’t shake the feeling she was being used as a prop. She was pissed.

      • Darla says:

        That’s awful and so clumsy. Politicians need my services too, you’re right Esmom. I’m gonna be rich.

  2. Betsy says:

    I think some intrepid person could make a metric ton of money by assembling a book comprised of all of these tone deaf social media posts and using the words to supply specifically why they’re wrong and how they signify support of the racist structures, coupled with a good version of the social media post.

    Because I hyper conscious that don’t have a lot of the right words around this issue, but I can look at a post like that and cringe. I like assembling my words so I have them at the ready.

    Also I like when clever people drag tone deaf people.

  3. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Dumbfounded. So many white people. So much stupidity.

  4. NatureLover says:

    You can do better and instead of making a post on IG, you can be supportive behind the scenes. That’s what counts! There are millions of people around the world making a statement of support to POC and declaring their intolerance of police brutality and the killings of black men and women. There are people taking a stand and not bragging about it.

    • Betsy says:

      That’s the thing, Isn’t it? She wields ENORMOUS power, she could have said that she commits to featuring x% of black designers, black owned fabric companies, etc. She has more power to shape the global notion of style than almost any other single person and this is all she had to offer.

  5. Erinn says:

    There is SO much of this bullshit happening, and I’m so disgusted. I’m so sick of seeing other white people try to coopt the movement for themselves. I’m so sick of people pretending color blindness is a viable thing. I’m so sick of white people having to shift the attention to themselves. It’s disgusting.

    My husbands a plumber. One of the electricians at their company thinks he’s a goddamn poet. He writes worse than I did in 7th grade and I HATED poetry. He’s this little weasely creep of a man, and I can’t stand him. Anyway, he posted a goddamn poem about racism last night. My husband showed it to me. I RAGED. It was absolute bullshit, and he somehow genuinely thinks that he was helping and that the world NEEDED to see this poem. He used one of their black coworkers as a fucking prop to take a photo with him to accompany the poem. I went OFF.

    And while I’m in a petty rage mode, wtf is up with that woman’s eyebrows. Those are the hardest looking set of brows that I’ve seen since the early 2000s TINY brows.

    • Esmom says:

      I know you were pissed but I can’t help but LMAO at your story of the poem. Sounds about…white!

      • Erinn says:

        Oh my god, the more I raged about it last night the more my husband laughed. He completely agreed with me, but he just can’t get over the fact that the guy genuinely thinks what he did was helpful! And then he started reading me the comments that were left “We live in a world full of the beauty of Gray” and “We are all humans black or white” and “facts! 💯💯💯”

        There were lines (I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have the guy on fb)
        we’re two different colors but if you cut us open we’re both red… lets stop the violence and be family instead

        But the entire time it kept going back to how there were two colors causing the problems and he completely missed the point that it’s ONE color creating the problems. And I KNOW he’s not an evil person or anything and that his intentions WERE good, but holy freaking tone deaf and not helpful!

      • Esmom says:

        Oh Erinn, thank you for elaborating, holy effing hell. He sounds exactly like some people I grew up with in my white blue collar neighborhood in highly segregated Chicago. One lady’s go-to is always “I don’t see color, I don’t care if you’re green,” and it makes me rage.

        She’s truly dumb, mindlessly posting right wing memes — so much Blue Lives Matter bullshit these days — and when anyone tries to call her out she often ends up agreeing without even realizing what she’s doing until another MAGA friend pulls her back on track with the talking points. And then she posts MLK stuff thinking she’s being so woke. So yeah, I get it. No doubt about it…she would fawning over your guy’s poetry. Sigh.

    • Jackie O'Glasses says:

      One of my oldest friends posted a BLM profile pic on facebook yesterday. She has never said or done anything remotely racist, but she’s never done anything for BLM either. This perfomative wokeness is ridiculous. If you want to do something for the movement, DO IT!

      • Esmom says:

        Yup. I stumbled into the funniest tweet thread yesterday, a lady announcing that if you want to support BLM, all white people should post photos of themselves in fedoras on a designated day next week, lol. The responses were pure gold…and it would not surprise me a bit if some people actually do take it seriously.

        At the same time, if she took the time to post something, she’s likely thinking about this in a way she maybe never has before. So, baby steps?

    • Darla says:

      OMG. Erinn, white people have done lost their minds. I don’t know what else to say.

  6. Godiva says:

    It’s the French!! They are strange AF. I currently live in France and they have this “different” view on race where they try to erase the race/ethnicity of the person in order for everyone to just be “French.” That’s great if you’re white but if you’re from North Africa or Black you can’t erase your race. Further, there is no concept someone’s race being “additive” to the culture. I was in London last year for the Notting Hill Carnival. I highly doubt France would EVER have a festival to celebrate black people of Caribbean or African descent. As a Black American I just have to shake my head at the French!

    • Amelie says:

      I’m half French and I confirm. Remember when Trevor Noah did a bit when France won the World Cup in 2018? He made a joke that Africa won the World Cup for France since most of the players on the French team were black. The French ambassador wrote him a letter which he read on the show saying that the players may have had parents that were from other countries but that the players themselves considered themselves French and that they represented the diversity of France. Trevor clapped back and said something along the lines of they actually represented France’s colonialist past. And also pointed out that the players can both be French AND African. You can see that video here:

      Yet in France, they make this whole thing about not referring to people by their race, religion (France is a VERY secular country), or place of origin. It’s very weird. France doesn’t even keep official census records based on race or religion because they consider that super taboo. They think Americans are obsessed with race, yet in France they do anything to avoid topics involving race. Considering their track record with the treatment of people of Arab descent, it’s no wonder they avoid it like the plague.

  7. janey says:

    Nice to see an actual apology for once.

  8. Xo says:

    I’d like to know what she thought she was saying.

  9. I pet goat 2 says:

    Oh bla bla bla “Continue to” ,”further support”… she did not do that before did she!!

    It is important, right now, to remember this:
    follow and copyright @laylafsaad

  10. Michelle says:

    She needs to apologize for those brows while she is at it.

    • C-Shell says:

      LOL, I was literally just typing the same thing. Not as tragic as her views and public statements, but pretty awful.

    • Bevvie says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Those brows are almost as tragic as her original comment, lol.

    • minx says:

      Was just going to say!

    • Carol says:

      I actually like her brows. I’m glad she apologized for her tone-deaf post. The backlash she received helped her realize that her original post was part of the problem. I hope this “wake up” moment will continue. Im assuming there is a lot of waking up to do on her part… as well as many others

  11. MOT says:

    I do applaud so many white people trying to support…messing up, and trying to learn. If we lump everyone together (all white people are this, all black people are that, all cops are one way, all Republicans are another (this is the one I’m guilty of as a bleeding blue Dem). We all have intolerances and prejudices…but when people are trying to be better, why not support that? I don’t think she meant it badly, but it was. And hopefully she’ll learn from this. Learns that comments like this are only possible with a level of privilege she’s unaware she has.

    I’m first gen Indian and my parents would say some pretty racist things (about different races, religions, sexual orientation)…over the years they have had experiences, learned and grown. Should I cancel them because they used to be intolerant???? I applaud them for being willing to listen and grow

  12. Nina Simone says:

    I can’t even begin to unpack the implications of what she said. It’s too disgusting. She can go to hell

  13. Valiantly Varnished says:

    France has its very own real issues with anti-blackness and racism and the French fashion world especially. None of this surprises me.

  14. Züri says:

    First, this just exposes the serious race problems that exist in France and Europe at large. Second, she clearly did not write that statement. If you’ve ever heard her speak or seen how she writes, it’s not her prose. I really question if she actually realizes how problematic her post was.

  15. crogirl says:

    People are idiots.

    Bosnian influencer Haha Hadžiavdagić did black face to show her support🙈

  16. Melissai says:

    If your not already, follow DietPrada

  17. YAS says:

    If Carine really wants to help she can stop putting white models in blackface to be “edgy” and actually start hiring more Black models. You know, actually do something concrete.

    Race relations in France, as a commenters mentioned further up, are absolutely mind bogglingly problematic, so I’m not surprised that someone of her generation (though these attitudes are absoluely present among younger generations there as well) would say something as stupid and tone-deaf as this.

  18. Joanna says:

    I think what she was probably trying to say was that she doesn’t see color just her friend. People think it’s ok to say that but it kind of says that all the races are the same, which is not true. There are cultural differences as well as differences in how some races are treated vs others. So saying you don’t see color also says you don’t see the differences and understand or appreciate it. Jmo

    • L4frimaire says:

      I hate when people say “ I don’t see color”. It’s offensive, like don’t you see people for who they are. It’s erasure cloaked in platitudes.

    • enike says:

      maybe English is not her native language? I mean in lots of languages if you translate something word-for-word, you dont get the exact meaning

    • crummycake says:

      Just wanted to point out, I’m in my early 50’s and when I was growing up, being “colorblind” was supposed to be the right/sensitive way to handle race – the idea was that we should treat everyone the same regardless of their skin color, which on the surface seems like a great idea in a perfect world where no racism exists. Of course, that movement only exacerbated issues of inequality but when I was a growing up, it was thought upon as the “right” way to handle racial differences. I think this woman is tone-deaf/ignorant and should be called-out on her cringe-worthy post, but I feel I need to say that a lot of people from my generation & beyond sometimes really step in a big old pile even when we have only good intentions.

  19. The Amazon says:

    Give them something for Effort.