The Word Network promotes itself as the “largest African American religious network in the world .” There is one small problem — it is owned by Kevin Adell, who is white. For the past week a controversy has been brewing, one rooted in this very problematic reality. The network targets Black audiences and Black megachurch pastors pay Adell to air their services. Adell recently texted a meme to one of the faces of the word network, Bishop George Bloomer. Bloomer felt the meme depicted Adell as a pimp and several prominent Black pastors, including Bloomer, as…Adell’s labor force. Bloomer is calling for Black pastors to pull their programming but ultimately, ownership is the issue.
The Word Network was founded in 2000 and today can be seen in over 200 countries. The network’s reach extends to Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia,
and the Americas. In the United States alone the network reaches nearly 93 million homes. All of that reach and all of those eyeballs translate to dollars. All of those dollars are ultimately controlled by a white owner who established a network for Black people and is using Black preachers to attract viewership. Based on Bishop Bloomer’s account of the story, that owner doesn’t appear to be overly respectful, even to the Black preachers who rake in the money. While that is certainly upsetting the larger question is why Black pastors ever allowed for this circumstance, in the first place.
The millions of viewers who tune into the Word Network aren’t doing so to see Kevin Adell. So then, why would Black pastors ever allow themselves to preach on his plantation? It seems unthinkable that, in 2019, Black preachers who have an international audience are still writing big checks to a Kevin Adell in order to get their message out. It’s time for Black people to own everything that we create value in and that includes religious programming. Fortunately, a Black owned inspirational network already exists. The Impact Network reaches over 80 million homes. Its reach is not as big as The Word Network just yet but it can certainly continue to grow, especially if Black clergy move their content there. Perhaps Black pastors should consider not only pulling their content from the Word Network but going a step further and keeping the dollars they raise in the Black community, where it is most needed.
This discussion goes far beyond Black preachers. Just as Black preachers have been used to create profits for white television network owners, Black athletes, entertainers and a host of other professionals are steadily working, creating value and enriching people who care nothing about Black people. Black talent is responsible for the wealth and Black people should own it all. Period. Ice Cube founded the Big 3 League for that very reason and others should follow his lead, including every Black minister. If Black people are creating the value, Black people should find a way to maintain ownership of it.