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Can you imagine not knowing you were black until you became an adult?

“Little White Lie” Documentary Tells Story Of Jewish Woman’s Discovery Of Her Black Paternity

That’s exactly what happened to Lacey Schwartz, a documentary filmmaker whose newest project “Little White Lie” is set to premiere this weekend.

Via NY Times reports:

Lacey Schwartz, a 37-year-old Harvard Law School graduate turned filmmaker, moves with ease in circles in which her identity as both black and Jewish seems unremarkable. What makes her biography striking is that Ms. Schwartz, a woman with light brown skin and a cascade of dark curls, grew up believing she was white.

How and why that happened is the subject of her film, “Little White Lie,” which has its premiere on Sunday at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, its first stop on the festival circuit before being broadcast on PBS next year. With Ms. Schwartz narrating, the camera travels to a funeral, girlfriend gab sessions and even her therapy appointments. At each stop, in raw conversations with family and friends, Ms. Schwartz asks over and over, how and why did she pass as white?

“I come from a long line of New York Jews,” she says early in the film, as photographs of her white relatives flash across the screen. “My family knew who they were, and they defined who I was.”

Ms. Schwartz was an only child who grew up in the mostly white town of Woodstock, N.Y. Her parents, Peggy and Robert Schwartz, told her that she favored her father’s swarthy Sicilian grandfather. It was not until she went off to college that she learned the truth.

Before starting college, “I was already questioning my whiteness because of what other people said and because I was aware that I looked different from my family,” she said in a recent interview. Then, based on the photograph accompanying her application, Georgetown University passed her name along to the black student association, which contacted her.

The university “gave me permission” to explore a black identity, Ms. Schwartz said.

After her first year, she confronted her mother, and Peggy Schwartz acknowledged that her biological father was an African-American with whom she had had an extramarital affair. Lacey Schwartz had meanwhile found acceptance among black students at Georgetown. “I genuinely experienced what it is to be black and what it is to be white,” Ms. Schwartz said.

We searched high and low for a trailer for the documentary but the closest we could come is this Truth Aid clip about her:

That’s really a rough thing to experience as a child. She seems to have handled it well though, riiiiiiight?

Photo Credit: Stills from Little White Lie



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