Growing Up White Until a Family Secret Revealed She Was Not

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-03-24 17:35Z by Steven

Growing Up White Until a Family Secret Revealed She Was Not

The Root

Genetta M. Adams, Senior Editor

In the documentary Little White Lie, filmmaker Lacey Schwartz spins a compelling story about embracing her racial identity.

Lacey Schwartz grew up as a white, Jewish girl in the predominantly white community of Woodstock, N.Y., raised by Peggy and Robert Schwartz. But what she didn’t know at the time was that her biological father was black.

The idea of “passing” for white has long been a part of African-American culture. But Schwartz’s story isn’t one about passing. She truly believed that she was white.

How she came to embrace her biracial identity and confront her parents about the family secret is the subject of her documentary, Little White Lie, which airs Monday on PBS as part of its Independent Lens series.

Judging someone’s racial identity by appearance alone can be tricky—the recent story about Nancy Giles’ reaction to Jay Smooth makes that point fairly obvious. But when Schwartz was a child, her light-brown skin and curly hair elicited comments from people outside her immediate family circle: At her bat mitzvah, a woman from the synagogue mistook Lacey for an Ethiopian Jew.

When Schwartz questioned her parents, her father showed her a portrait of her Sicilian great-grandfather, whose darker skin seemingly provided an explanation for her own. Schwartz, like everyone around her, bought this story…

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A young Jewish woman, raised as white, learns she’s not

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2015-03-20 01:00Z by Steven

A young Jewish woman, raised as white, learns she’s not

Religion News Service

Lauren Markoe, National Reporter

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Schwartz‘s seemed like any other Jewish family in Woodstock, N.Y., except for one thing: mom and dad were obviously white, and their daughter Lacey was obviously not.

That racial disconnect would be easier to fathom if Peggy and Robert Schwartz hadn’t had everyone believing their dark-skinned daughter was the biological child of both parents.

It would take “Little White Lie,” the film an adult Lacey made about family secrets and religious identity, to unpack this mystery.

“I grew up in a world of synagogue, Hebrew school, bar mitzvahs,” Schwartz narrates over a home movie montage of Jewish holiday celebrations and her own bat mitzvah.

“So it never occurred to me that I was passing,” she continues. “I wasn’t pretending to be something I wasn’t. I actually grew up believing I was white.”

“Little White Lie,” which has enjoyed success on the film festival circuit and will reach a larger audience when PBS’s Independent Lens airs it on March 23, revolves around a flabbergasting central question: How could this family pretend that she owed her complexion to the genes of dad’s darkest Italian ancestor?…

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