Jewish girl overcomes a ‘Little White Lie’ about race

Jewish girl overcomes a ‘Little White Lie’ about race

The Kansas City Star
Kansas City, Missouri

Jeneé Osterheldt

When I look at one of her old baby pictures, I think of my own childhood snapshots.

A mixed little girl sits happily in her white mama’s lap. It’s a sweet picture of Lacey Schwartz and her mother. But unlike me, she didn’t know her true heritage until she was grown. Ironically, her last name means black in German and Yiddish, but Lacey grew up white.

Her caramel-latte brown skin and dark, curly hair stood out in her loving, upper-middle-class Jewish household in mostly white Woodstock, N.Y. The family had an explanation for that: Lacey looked like her father’s Sicilian grandfather.

But deep down, she always wondered…

…“I lived over a decade in a racial closet,” Lacey says. “Learning the truth was a relief that led to this larger search on how to integrate my two identities. I personally identify as biracial. But I look at that as a category of being black with the understanding that other biracial people may not feel that way.”…

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