A white religious TV station owner is facing criticism for allegedly sharing several racist images, including a meme featuring him dressed as a pimp and surrounded by Black pastors.
Kevin Adell, who is also the chief executive officer of 910-AM radio and WADL-TV in Detroit, allegedly texted the meme to Bishop George Bloomer last month, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Since allegedly texting the meme of himself in a pinky ring, white fur hat and matching long fur coat, Adell has distanced himself from the depiction, which was created by the blog Babylon Today, a site devoted to criticism of preachers and evangelists.
“I didn’t create it,” he told the Free Press. “I had nothing to do with this meme.”
Still, the image prompted the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists to call for a boycott of Adell’s station, The Word Network.
“This image is repulsive as it utilizes racial stereotypes and denigrates community leaders in the process,” the NABJ chapter said in a statement.
The journalism organization said sharing the meme was “doubly disturbing” because 910-AM is promoted as a “home to Black voices.” The organization called for an apology, diversity training and plan to avoid similar offenses.
“Being complicit in sharing racist materials is both offensive and a betrayal to the audience base you court and claim to support,” the NABJ chapter said in its statement.
Adell told the Free Press that he is considering legal action and that the NABJ chapter is “defaming me” with its statement, which is no longer online.
He said more than 95 percent of his 160 employees are Black and he’s known Bloomer, a Black North Carolina pastor with a show on Adell’s TV station, for eight years.
“To say that I need diversity training, to say that I need to apologize, apologize for something I didn’t do?… Why would I apologize for something I didn’t do,” Adell asked.
His attorney, William McHenry, sent a cease and desist letter to the Black journalist organization warning of possible litigation allegedly for painting Adell in a “defamatory or false light,” the Free Press reported.
“Adell has already disavowed the Meme in question by publicly stating that he had no prior knowledge of the Meme and confirmed that it was not created by him,” McHenry said.
A group of Black clergy and allies started an online petition to boycott The Word. By noon Wednesday, it had garnered more than 3,960 signatures.
Clergy members contended in the petition that when Adell sent the meme to Bloomer the CEO followed by launching several racist responses, including a drawn blackface portrayal on a photo.
The bishop reportedly tried to get Adell to stop several times.
“This is not funny. This is not good,” Bloomer said, according to the petition. “That pimp talk and hoe talk has racist connotations for Black people.”
In response, “Adell texted Bishop Bloomer a second time and said that ‘it’s funny and he should get over it,'” petitioners said in their online plea for a boycott.
He also alluded to Bloomer being like a servant and colored in the face of a man photographed with a black Sharpie, petitioners alleged.
The reported blackface image was the “final straw” for the bishop, according to the petition.
“As a result of the above actions, Bishop Bloomer made the decision to leave The Word Network,” petitioners stated.
Adell, however told the Free Press Bloomer quit “because he wanted more air time” but was unwilling to change his show as suggested.
It’s unclear what the reported suggestions were.