Greenleaf has us side eyeing Pastor every Wednesday night

Greenleaf is Oprah’s new hit series, I know I was supposed to say “The Oprah Winfrey Network,” but do I really have to? Oprah, switched up her programming big time since the network launched in 2011, it got a little more…colorful. After watching endless of hours of Dr. Phil and Nate Berkus reruns even I began to wonder if the queen of talk should have taken on an entire network. We all want to live our best life, but we also want to be entertained, I guess someone tapped Oprah and her team because they pivoted. She joined forces with Tyler Perry and Iyanla Vanzant, soon the network that was struggling started to pick up some steam. In addition, shows like “Super Soul Sunday,” and “Life Class,” made the network feel more well-rounded.

This summer the network dropped a bombshell when it premiered its newest and now hit series, Greenleaf. The drama series created by Craig Wright follows the Greenleaf family who runs a megachurch in Memphis, Tennessee. The series has a grand cast if I do say so myself, with actors like Keith David who plays Bishop James Greenleaf and Lynn Whitfield as his wife and the matriarch of the family. The cast alone would make you want to tune in. The series opens when their estranged daughter Grace Greenleaf (GiGi) returns home after 20 years following the suicide of her sister Faith. We soon find out that Grace used to be a pastor herself, but something made her run for the hills and never look back.

Grace returns to set the record straight on what caused her sister Faith to take her own life. Lies, adultery, homosexuality, rape, suicide, you name the sin or the commandment and I can assure you the Greenleaf family has broken every one.

Greenleaf

And every week millions of Black people tune in and watch as our beloved black church takes the hot seat. And you know why we tune in? Besides the great storyline, we tune in because it holds some level of truth as it pertains to our culture. The black church has always been the pinnacle of African-American culture. It’s engrained in our history and put on the highest pedestal. But underneath the gospel music and the saving of souls the black church has also been at the center of the most scandalous stories.

Greenleaf is not just a show about a Bishop and his family, it’s a show about the Black family. Take away the cross and the church and there you have it, in its finest form the Black family is sitting there looking back at us. Greenleaf holds a mirror up to our faces and makes us look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. It peels back the secrets, the lies, and the shame. Some may take the show at face value but it’s deeper than a drama series with some good acting. With each episode, Greenleaf uncovers a quiet truth that we can all nod in agreement and identify with but pretend it doesn’t exist. For example, the sole reason why Grace returns is because her black sister committed suicide. For years’ black people have screamed to the mountain tops that black people don’t kill themselves. We refused to admit that we too can have mental issues, that  if left untreated and undiagnosed (because all we need is Jesus) we can fall victim to suicide.

And why did Faith kill herself? We find out her Uncle Mac, brother to Lady Mae had been raping her repeatedly and that is what caused Faith to kill herself. Was this the first time that Uncle Mac was accused of messing with a young girl? Nope. And when Grace initially told her family that Uncle Mac had indeed hurt her sister did anyone do anything? Nope. Uncle Mac was chilling for years and no harm came to him. He was still going to church and was still highly respected by his peers. All while the child suffered in silence because nobody believed her. Sounds familiar? Now I’m not saying that this is every black story, but these storylines are real life scenarios that are played out over and over again within the Black family.

Mental illness, Rape, Adultery, Homosexuality, all issues that greatly affect the black community but often these conversations are silenced. Greenleaf took the pedestal that we hold nearest and dearest in the black community (the black church) and used it as a baseline to tell some of our rawest truths. And every week we tune in, because finally, someone is telling our story…even if it makes us cringe and side eye our Pastors on Sunday.

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Last modified: June 12, 2017

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