DBFF: ‘Little White Lie’ aims to highlight cultural differences of one family

Published on: Sun, Jan 24, 2016

By Logan Holloway

There are many issues in the world today that we seem never able to escape.

World hunger: not great. The fact that it was almost 70 degrees on Christmas: never a good sign for the climate. Tony Romo’s clavicle density: it’s bleak out there guys.

One issue in particular, however, always seems to find its way to the forefront of the conversation, to percolate its way to the center of our ever-waning attention: racial equality.

Yeah, I know. It’s not a fun subject. Especially when it’s coming at you from yours truly, a lump so white he bears a striking resemblance to the Michelin Man. Seriously, Victorian-era royalty would kill for the milky state my thighs are in. But, unfortunately, it is still an issue, even in 2016.

People much smarter and more qualified than me have talked at length about the many explanations for this, so I don’t presume to be throwing out any major hot takes here. All I can say is that, to me, one of the reasons it remains so is the barriers that we have put up throughout society still remain to perpetuate the ignorance of our cultural differences. It can be difficult to empathize with those who are different, it can be hard to understand. And, in the immortal words of Nas, “[People] fear what they don’t understand.” We fear being treated like outcasts, we fear our own insecurities. That fear can make it extremely difficult for us to embrace the differences, and to begin to break down those barriers. There may be no person in the world who knows and has had to deal with this feeling more than a young woman by the name of Lacey Schwartz.

lacyLacey is the subject of Little White Lie, a documentary that she also wrote, directed and produced. The film follows Lacey from early childhood, where an innocent naivety over the state of her appearance made her feel like an outsider to her white, Jewish family and community, to young adulthood, where a painful truth is finally confirmed that rocks her family to the very core. It’s a well-made, passionately-told story that connects us instantly with this family, making it easy to follow them throughout their arduous journey.

Little White Lie is not so much a “black” person movie, or about what it means to be black. It’s about being a person of color, and about this woman’s unique foray into this culture she never knew she belonged to. Color has been used as a derogatory term many times over the years for the black community, but in this instance it is simply an inclusion of all races, whether black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Indian, and the many other communities and cultures that have for so long felt separated from white people. Part of what makes stories like Lacey’s so intriguing is the ability it shows to breach years of built up tension and cross  over the barrier from one people to another, and to not only embrace this new culture as more than a simple recognition of equality but as an actual acceptance of this part of who she is. Watching Little White Lie, and the journey Lacey takes from feeling like an outcast in white circles and into being accepted by the entire community of this colorful collage of people and cultures is like watching someone find their way home after being lost in the wilderness of life. The experience is watching a person become whole.

It is also, however, a story about family, and how lies and betrayal affect those that are closest to us. Spending an entire childhood believing you’re one thing and then learning a new truth would never be easy. For those truths to be about your actual ethnicity and your blood-related heritage is a blow that would shake anyone. The film’s second half is largely dominated by the tension wrought from a long standing lie, and the rift it put through Lacey’s family. But it also holds a touching crescendo that shows that mistakes don’t always lead to negative consequences. It reminds us that family isn’t simply blood, or the color of your skin; it is love, and forgiveness and the promise of always being there, even in the midst of a little white lie.

Little White Lie runs 65 minutes and will show as part of Film Block 3 on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. at the Campus Theatre. Visit the Denton Black Film Festival website for more information and see here for the full schedule and to purchase tickets.

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