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T.V Portrayal of Intersectionality: “Green Leaf”

They leave and then come back

#AfricanAmericans #Religion #Intersectionality #Greenleaf #Sexuality

When I think of green leaves, I think about it in the form of individuals lives. Leaves can be in comparison to life. They live, reproduce and die. No human stays for long. We grow, and try to stay healthy. We live and love, all the while life goes on. Leaves only function and grow based on the environment. However, leaves are not completely responsible for much as they do not have a brain to reflect thinking and a place to compartimentalize decision making, the way humans do. In the show Greenleaf about an African American family, many of the family members fall to the stressors of the church, family obligations and their own personal lives conflicting with that of the first leading family of an all Black church. However, just like a green leaf, this family hangs on to the strongest branches of their family and revitalize their spirits and do not give up on the challenges they are faced with. The challenges for this family just keep coming one after the other.

Greenleaf: OWN Network Hit Is The Number One Cable Telecast For ...

In the article written by A. Williams and V. Gonlin, they talk about the t.v portrayal of many African American women on T.V and how many women of color are portrayed as lighter skinned, curly and or straight hair. This depiction is true of Green leaf and the portrayal of the women of color. However, they also wrote, how many women of color are displayed as tough, unattractive, undesirable or sexually immoral and hypersexual (2017). Greenleaf with its different images of the colored woman, does a great job showing the diverse roles the women play in the church and in their personal lives. The show has much to show in regards to race, gender differences and sexuality.


“Greenleaf”, is the name of the First African American, Christian family who owns the widely known, all Black church in the south of Memphis. The family has many gender differences and intersectionalities of their life and the church xcorssing paths and eventually, many of those intersectionalities come to be apart of the churches gossip hall, leaving many of the women and men in charge of defending or not defending parts of their lives. Many of people of color in this cast are put on the spot and have to show vulnerability and which goes for both men and women.

Culture -People of color & the church

Historically, religion has been an important component in many African Americans lives. The church has been/is a house and home to many, regardless of what goes on behind the closed doors of one’s home.

Church is known as the one place people and African Americans can set their problems aside and focus on reconnecting with family, friends, husbands, wives children and the like. Church is also known as a place where one can go personally to connect with God and pray about any stress or issues.

I believe because of the mostly, all African American cast, and how important religion has been to African Americans, could be the reason this series takes place in the church and in the south. Many couples and relationships in “Greenleaf”, do not directly, and immediately focus on matters which are stressful and create disturbances in their lives. Many may stay silent and wait for God’s time and intervention. In the meantime, many stay focused on the church life and holding up a picture perfect life.

For instance, in the series “Greenleaf”, season 1:E9, a Bishop is accused of having inappropriate relationships with young ladies. These women are in the church and in bishop’s family. Many, whom are not yet consenting adults. It makes me think of the “other man”, and the life of a man having two lives. One good and the other breaking the law just to have personal satisfaction.

The bishop may have not been suspected because of his personal relationship in/ with the church as a responsible “God fearing” man. However, one of his family member’s intervened an investigated old complaints and allegations.The bishop was exposed. If not, bishop may have kept doing wrong. He was operating on his own terms and hiding behind his leadership of the church. He may have been also hiding behind the entitlement of being a member of the Greenleaf family, who owns the church.

Then there’s Charity’s husband, whom has identity issue and on the way to becoming a new father. If a person of color was struggling with an identity issue or maybe someone watching the show just wants to converse with others about the shows controversy and gender differences, William and Gonlin touch on some points. In the article written by William and Gonlin; if potentially someone or other persons of color were tuning into watch “Greenleaf”, and wanted to tune into a “second screen”, or online, via tuning into “Black” twitter to interact with other people of color, then Black twitter could be one place others could go and relate to others and affirm personal opinions (2017).

Why there’s Still Potential Secrecy in The Church: Intersectionality, Creating Division & Opportunity of Those Individuals Who Break The Law and Those Individuals Still Identifying with self (sexuality).

According to Nadolny (2020), USA today, a church may mishandle crimes, such as sexual assault due to scrutiny, limited understanding, limited guidance, and ignorance.

In Dade’s opinion, African American churches are “hypocrisy”. He says, many churches operate on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” moto. This enables members of the LBGTQ+ community to still participate, in the church. Mainly on the churches choir and in other positions of authority (hypocrisy). This is an older article, but Dade also mentions, president Obama opening the door to the acceptance of same sex marriage and yet religious leaders still being in opposition. Especially, those religious leaders of the African American community (Dade, 2012).

The divide is moving towards change, especially with people of color belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, the portrayal of the African American man and his role as a masculine male. In “Greenleaf”, even though some of the men struggle with their sexual orientation, it doesn’t seem to take away the Presence of their masculinity.


Williams, A. and Gonlin, Vanessa (2017).I got all my sisters with me (on Black Twitter): second screening of how to get away with Murder as a discourse on Black Womanhood, Information,Communication & society.

Published by Alexandria Mackell

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5 thoughts on “T.V Portrayal of Intersectionality: “Green Leaf”

  1. The approach to this post was very interesting to read. I really enjoyed the comparisons of nature to human lives because I feel the similarity is identical. The symbolism of a green leaf portraying the rich, wealthy, and white was clear comparing it to today’s society. The brown leaf representing the weak, poor, and colored people in America is an important factor. However, what aspects of this show specifically are being discussed? What are some specific examples from the show to back up your analysis?


    1. Hi Sofia,
      Specifically from the show representing a brown leaf and rather weak intersection are the bishop, who has sexual urges for young girls and a sisters husband searching for his sexual identity…. The two held to secracy about those particular parts of their own lives, being Black and acting cool all while in the church.


  2. Hi Alexandria, this post was very well-written. I enjoyed reading it, and your approach of the topic was very unique. Using the symbolism of brown and green leaves helped me understand your topic and ideas easily. The idea that leaves represent humans and life is a very unique approach. The concept of brown leaves still hanging on to tree’s like human’s hanging onto life was a cool metaphor.This post was very interesting for me to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After reading your post it makes me want to watch the show. It sounds very interesting. I really liked the introduction. I think it makes the reader interested in your writing. I have noticed a lot of hypocrisy in the church, and it seems the show has an interesting portrayal of that. I think it would be beneficial for you to add a conclusion to summarize your writing. Aside from that, I think it is well written.


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