Most people don’t need to be told what race they are, but one biracial New York filmmaker was very confused for the first half her life.
Lacey Schwartz is sharing her journey to find out exactly who she really is after being led to believe that she was a white jewish girl while growing up. Sounds pretty unbelievable, right? Well, in “Little White Lie,” Lacey shares exactly how her parents were very diligent in dismissing any questions about her racial identity.
You’re probably saying,”But she looks brown!” Her parents explained away her darker complexion by telling her that she inherited her skin tone from her Sicilian grandfather.
Lacey doesn’t believe tha her parents lied to hurt her or for any other malicious reason. Rather it was in the interested of self-preservation. The film, which was recently screened at the BlackStar Film Festival, reveals that Lacey was actually the product of an affair that her mother had.
“What I think was really happening in my family were layers of denial. We define little white lies as family secrets plus denial,” she told TheGrio.com. “Family secrets are kind of something everyone sort of knows, but doesn’t talk about. Denial is not just lying to other people but lying to yourself. You are literally in denial that something is the way that it is.”
Although Lacey and her peers had been a bit dubious about her race growing up, she didn’t learn the truth about her racial identity until she applied for college at Georgetown University. After seeing the picture that came along with her application, school officials passed her contact information along to the university’s black student association.
She told the New York Times that she believes Georgetown “gave me permission” to look into her racial background, and she found the university’s black community to be very welcoming to her. “I genuinely experienced what it is to be black and what it is to be white,” Lacey said.
After her freshman year, she confronted her mother for an answer about her race, and her mom finally admitted that she was fathered by a black man. Finally getting confirmation that she is haf black didn’t change how Lacey saw herself; it changed her lense on the world.
“It’s how you’re seeing interactions, how comments come across to you,” she said. “When you’re in a town, are you aware of how many people of color are there? Are you aware when you’re in a work environment?”
She continued, “There are benefits to being white — for me, it’s walking into a space with a potential sense of entitlement.”
There’s no word on a national premiere for Little White Lie at this time, but it s currently making the rounds of the film festival circuit. I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see this end up OWN, if it was picked up for a TV premiere.
Speaking of OWN, FilmContact.com reports that Bill Duke has signed on to direct “Light Girls,” which is a follow-up to the critically acclaimed documentary “Dark Girls.” He’s designated Themba Sibeko’s White Heron Pictures to produce the documentary, which has the great potential to go wrong just based on the subject.
Complexion is a very sensitive subject in the black community, but Themba it’s necessary to continue to conversation started by “Dark Girls.”
“‘Light Girls’ will hopefully spur further debate on colourism, the recent resurgence of skin lightening products being used by African women, celebrities, and the impact it has on race and identity,” said Themba.
Viewers should expect to see “Light Girls” later this year.