National tensions over race relations spilled over to Paper magazine this week, where the editorial staff lashed out against Chief Executive Tom Florio for his treatment of a recently departed black employee.

“As the editorial team of PAPER, we condemn our CEO Tom Florio’s recent email to our former coworker Michael Love Michael,” the team wrote in a note posted on Twitter about its recently departed culture editor Michael Love Michael.

The hubbub kicked off on June 1, when Florio issued a staff-wide email seeking to sympathize with the “deep-rooted racial oppression and institutionalized racism they represent — have left us frustrated, angry, sad and frightened.”

That prompted Love Michael, who goes by the pronoun “they/them” on Twitter, to “reply all” with an email expressing a deeply unsatisfactory experience at the magazine — known for its “break the internet” cover of Kim Kardashian.

Love took the magazine to task for its treatment of staffers of color, without getting into specifics. “This show of allyship in the wake of this violence, in the face of losing a handful of top Black and [people of color] talent, including myself, seems performative at best and hypocritical at worst,” Love Michael wrote after having earlier resigned as the magazine’s culture editor.

Florio was taken aback by the reproach, and reprimanded Love Michael for airing grievances in public, according to the email chains posted on Twitter.

“My email to the company was not intended to be a personal forum and I ask that you respect that,” Florio wrote. “Thank you everyone for the dialogue and I look forward [to] using our voice to address the issues that have been discussed today.”

That’s when the editorial staff chimed in. “Michael was candid about their experience at PAPER and instead of management listening, their valid concerns about how Black people and people of color are treated at this company were dismissed,” they said in their note.

Florio quickly changed his tune on Twitter. “As a media CEO, I appreciate the power of the written word, but this week I gained a lesson in my own failures of communication and yes, self awareness,” Florio wrote.

“Over the past two days, I’ve continued to have open dialogue with my entire team, who have expressed a wide range of opinions, including views on how we can improve,” Florio said in a statement to Media Ink. “We’re proud to be a vibrant community with almost 40 percent people of color, but we can’t be complacent about making sure that every employee feels this is a place they’re supported and can grow as professionals. I certainly can’t claim to have all the answers, but I’m working on specific courses of action now with the help of our team.”

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