Martin Luther King, Jr. once remarked that Sunday mornings at 11:00a.m. were “the most segregated hour of the week,” referring to the racial makeup of Christian churches. That sentiment remains true in many churches today, and Kevin Adell isn’t doing much to change that.
Adell, the white owner of The Word Network, which bills itself as the “largest African-American religious network in the world,” has refused to apologize for an offensive, racist meme shared on his social media. The image, which originated on the website Babylon Today, features a picture of Adell, dressed in “pimp” attire, surrounding by several African American preachers.
It didn’t just appear on his social media. Adell shared it — in a positive way — with some of those black clergy members. A Change.org petition is now calling for an apology:
… Bishop [George] Bloomer [who appeared in the image] stated: “This is not funny. This is not good. That pimp talk and hoe talk has racist connotations for Black people.” Adell texted Bishop Bloomer a second time and said that “it’s funny and he should get over it.”
[In response to additional incidents] Bishop Bloomer explained that what he was doing was the equivalent of a white man wearing black face. Bishop Bloomer told Adell again, “Get rid of this. Stop playing with this.” Kevin then texted Bishop Bloomer a photo of himself in a white tuxedo standing next to a friend of his also wearing a white tuxedo and, as if with a sharpie, he blacked out the face of the friend, thus producing black face and texting it to an African-American man.
Bloomer has since left The Word Network. Adell denies the accusations. Furthermore, he says there’s no need for him to go through any sort of diversity training.
That’s only making the problem worse:
On Monday, the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists also joined that chorus calling for a boycott of the network, demanding that Adell meet with Detroit NABJ and other organizations, issue a public apology, commit to undergo diversity training, and create a plan to “avoid such egregious actions in the future” before the boycott ends, according to a statement posted on Twitter.
“This image is repulsive as it utilizes racial stereotypes and denigrates community leaders in the process,” the statement from the executive board of the Detroit NABJ to Adell says. “It is doubly disturbing because your station’s marketing materials promote the Word Network and the 910-AM radio station as home to black voices. Being complicit in sharing racist materials is both offensive and a betrayal to the audience base you court and claim to support.”
Adell says he doesn’t need to apologize because he didn’t create the meme. He just shared it. So there. (Good luck trying to make sense of that.)
He also responded to accusations of racism by saying that “95% of his employees are African American.” Which is the CEO’s version of “But I have black friends.”
Just because you’re the boss of a company that employs black people doesn’t mean you’re incapable of racist actions. The wrong response is to double down on your actions when plenty of people have called you out for being offensive.