At first glance, Lacey Schwartz's childhood seems pretty picturesque: Raised in Woodstock, New York — a sleepy town located about 2 hours north of Manhattan — Schwartz grew up as the only child of her white, Jewish parents, enveloped by a loving community of friends and teachers. Though her mom and dad divorced when she was a teen, Schwartz's upbringing fits the mostly-happy model of childhood remembered by middle-class kids everywhere — doting relatives, posed photos at BBQs and camp, and a warm swirl of bar and bat mitzvahs.
If anyone questioned Schwartz's brown complexion or curly hair, her family would explain away her appearence as the tenacious genetic legacy of a long-lost Sicilian ancestor. After all, Schwartz, as far as she knew, was just like everyone else in her placid community — the fair-skinned descendants of mostly Eastern European Jews.
Of course, family secrets have a way of bubbling to the surface regardless of how ardently we try not to see them. In the fourth episode of our podcast Strong Opinions Loosely Held, host Elisa Kreisinger sat down with Schwartz to discuss the astonishing revelation that forever changed her understanding of her own racial and personal history — and the underpinning dynamics that's left her questioning her identity for so long. Listen to the full episode here.
Since discovering the truth of her heritage, Schwartz wrote and directed a movie about her story, Little White Lie, which won the All Access Creative Promise Award at 2006's Tribeca Film Festival. Learn more about the film, and Schwartz's remarkable journey, here.