Little White Lie: The Story of A Black Girl Who Thought She Was White

By Joshua D.Copeland

Could you imagine growing up your entire life believing that you’re something you’re not?

That was the day and life of Lacey Schwartz, a young black girl who grew up as a white Jewish girl in Woodstock N.Y.  She was raised by he parents Peggy and Robert Schwartz in a predominantly white community.   But all this time, her parents forgot to mention that her biological father was black.

Many fare-skinned blacks have taken advantage of the idea of  passing for white person.  But with Schwartz, she wasn’t willingly passing for a white girl – she honestly believed she was white.

To many, its clearly obvious that Schwartz was a little Black girl running around and playing with her friends.  But when she confronted her parents the first time, her father showed her a portrait of her great-grandfather, who also had darker skin.  This would be the story that convinced Schwartz and everyone else.

“To me, one of the big themes of my story and the film is about the incredible power of denial,” said Schwartz, 38, speaking from her home in Montclair, N.J., where she lives with her husband and 18-month-old twin boys. “And one of the things I was very interested in looking at is what I consider to be the anatomy of denial.”

The great-grandfather story was believed to be true for many years.  And when Schwartz attended a diverse high school, she could never understand why the other black girls would stare at her in confusion.  Suddenly, her parents split up when she was 16, and she didn’t know why.  This led to more questions…

Eventually, after being identified as an African-American at Georgetown University, and being embraced by the Black Student Alliance, the unanswered questions would lead her into confronting her mother once more.  It was then that Peggy revealed that she had an affair with a black friend named Rodney Parker.

The documentary is about how she learned to come to turns with her true, biracial identity, and why her family kept the secret from her after all these years.  The title, “Little White Lie” will air Monday on PBS on the Independent Lens series.

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