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Fashion podcaster accused of anti-Semitism: I owe the Jewish community an apology

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Recho Omondi, right, pictured in 2016, has been accused of anti-Semitism for calling Leandra Medine Cohen, pictured in 2020, an ‘American Jewish princess’. (Getty Images via JTA.org)

By Ben Sales

Recho Omondi, a fashion podcaster who was accused of anti-Semitism for comments in a recent interview she conducted with a Jewish writer, issued a lengthy apology to her listeners.

I owe an apology to the Jewish community and anyone else offended by my words, Omondi said in a six-minute segment posted Tuesday morning on his podcast channel, The Cutting Room Floor. I said some really crass and reductive things about the Jews, painting them in one big, wide stroke, and it really stereotyped and insulted a lot of my friends, fans of the show and strangers.

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Omondi hasfacing accusations of anti-Semitismfollowing an interview with fashion blogger Leandra Medine Cohen almost two weeks ago. Medine Cohen resigned from the publication she founded, Man Repeller, last year after suffering backlash for firing one of her few black employees months before the racial justice protests this summer.

In the introduction to his interview with Medine Cohen, Omondi, who is black, claimed that many of the country’s racist white founders, including the slave owners, were Jewish. This false claim echoes aastereotypepromoted by some prominent American anti-Semites.

At the end of the podcast, Omondi called Medine Cohen an American Jewish princess and added: At the end of the day you are going to get your nose and keratin treatments changed and your last name changed from Ralph Lifshitz to Ralph. Lauren. And everything will go just fine.

Medine Cohens’ comments in the interview with Omondi have been widely criticized as not being self-aware. But in the days after the podcast went live, listeners wrote that they were offended by Omondis’ comments. These listeners included several donors of small contributions to support the podcast on a crowdfunding site.

The Anti-Defamation Leagueasked Omondi to apologize. A widely read article on the podcast inThe cup, a style and culture post, added a note on accusations of anti-Semitism.

The day after downloading the podcast, Omondi posted on Instagram, I want to acknowledge that I understand Leandra does not represent ALL Jews or the wider culture whatsoever. Days later, she deleted the comments on Jewish slave owners and the American Jewish Princess segment from the podcast.

In her apology Tuesday, Omondi, also the founder of an eponymous fashion brand, said she did not understand the nuances and diversity of Jewish life.

It took a second, because I really had to come to terms with my own thoughts, my biases, where those biases were coming from, she said. So, I feel very sorry for all the people that I disrespected and alienated from my own lack of understanding for, really, the depth of Jewish culture. I knew it was vast, but I didn’t understand how nuanced it was. And now I’m aware of the difference between, like Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews and various colored and black Jews, and the difference between being an ethnicity, or religion, or a nation state.

Omondi added that she didn’t understand the American Jewish princess to be an insult, saying she thought it was an absurd thing to say but didn’t know the full story behind her that still is very much alive and well for the Jewish people. She also said her comments on keratin treatments and nose jobs were bleak.

In the fashion industry, she said, most of my experiences with Jews generally included a lot of racist and anti-black energy, and this has led me to judge the community as a whole unfairly, to be honest, but I realized there was a lot going on. more solidarity and black and Jewish organizations and initiatives against racial injustice than I have ever experienced.

Omondi said she didn’t want this to become my villain origin story and that she was grateful to those who called her comments. She said that all of my grievances about Leandra really had nothing to do with her Judaism.

I’m not going to say and act like I know all about Jewish culture, because I’m learning about it, but, you know, I’m not ashamed to say when I fucked up, she said said. I’m not ashamed to know more.

Medine Cohen does not appear to have apologized to Omondis on Instagram or his personal newsletter. The Jewish Telegraph Agency emailed Medine Cohen for comment.

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