The last time George Bloomer made national news, in 2015, the East Durham pastor asked then-presidential candidate Donald Trump if he was a racist.
Four years later, the bishop of Bethel Family Worship Center is in the news again, after he reportedly quit working for The Word Network—the self-proclaimed “largest African-American religious network in the world”—after its white owner spread a meme depicting well-known black clergymen his “hoes,” according to stories first reported by the Detroit Free Press and The Root.
Kevin Adell’s Detroit-based The Word features some of the biggest names in television ministry, including black clergymen TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Bishop Paul Morton, and Jamal Bryant. For eight years, it featured Bloomer as well.
But on September 19, according to a petition posted last month on change.org by an organization called Concerned African-African Clergy & Allies, Adell texted a meme to Bloomer that showed Adell “dressed as a pimp and various well-known Black clergy surrounding him as his ‘hoes.’”
The petition, which calls for a black boycott of The Word, continues: “Although Adell did not create this image, he wasn’t offended by it and even texted it to various staff (many of whom are African-American), including Bishop Bloomer. This created a hostile work environment for Bishop Bloomer and others. When Bishop Bloomer 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.’”
According to the petition, Bloomer went to Adell and his assistant in person and told them, “This is not funny. Don’t play with this, and don’t play with it with me.”
Adell allegedly responded by photoshopping a second photo, this time with Bloomer in a white tuxedo, depicted as the diminutive character Tattoo from Fantasy Island. On the show, Tattoo called another character, Mr. Roarke, “Boss.”
“Kevin Adell was alluding to Bishop Bloomer being HIS Tattoo, and him being ‘Boss,’ the petition says. “Although Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island was a good character, the term ‘boss’ in the Black community carries the connotation of ‘massa,’ and that is precisely what Kevin Adell was suggesting. The article that accompanied the photoshopped image of Kevin as a pimp and his hoes even refers to him as the ‘massa’ of The Word Network.”
As a result of these actions, the petition says, “Bishop Bloomer made the decision to leave The Word Network.”
On late Wednesday night, Bloomer told the INDY that he had not yet signed the petition, but he said its account was accurate.
For the past eight years, Bloomer says, he’s been “the face of the network,” while hosting three programs. He says Adell first showed him the meme after he’d been on the air hosting a program to raise funds for hurricane victims in the Bahamas.
“I told him to get rid of this right away because it has racist connotations,” Bloomer says.
According to text messages Bloomer provided to the INDY, Adell later that day sent him a text of the photoshopped picture with the words, “You look like a midget. A tattoo from Fantasy Island. I didn’t know they made Tuxedos that small. LOL”
“That’s not funny at all,” Bloomer replied, according to the text messages.
“LOL,” Adell responded.”
Bloomer provided images of his text conversation with Adell (spelled Adele here) to support his account.
The Durham pastor says he called Adell at that point, cursed him out, and slammed the phone down. The station manager called next, and the bishop cursed him out, too, before leaving the network for good.
Now he’s in contact with Al Sharpton and the Urban League. He’s also developing a strategy to persuade black TV viewers to leave The Word for smaller, black-owned networks.
“I haven’t signed the petition,” he says. “When I sign, I’m going to do it on TV.”
Earlier this week, Adell told the Detroit Free Press that he didn’t create the meme and said he forwarded it to Boomer merely to make him aware of its existence.
He also disputed Bloomer’s contention that he quit because of the meme. Instead, the Free Press reported, “Bloomer ‘quit the network [because] he wanted more air time,” but [he] was unwilling to change his show as the staff had suggested to him. Adell said Bloomer wanted a weekly, not a monthly show.”
As of Wednesday evening, the change.org petition had more than four thousand signatures.
Contact staff writer Thomasi McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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