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Accidental Racism, Intentional Activism

Previously posted at Medium here. This is possibly one of the most complicated things I’ve ever written. That’s not because I shy away from tough subjects. I’ve been writing online since 2002, contributed to books and other publications, and written two of my own books discussing things like religion, politics, and mental illness. This is more complicated than all of those because going deep into my history to look at things I’ve always viewed one way, but now realize the very foundation I grew from, and have stood atop, is different than I knew, different than I counted on to…

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Viral Facebook Post – Hi There, White Friends

This post went viral on Facebook. As I post this, the counts are: 10.4k+ shares, 3.4k+ comments, and 20k+ reactions. Here is the full text. At the bottom you’ll see a video where I answer some of the most common questions that came my way in response to this post. __________ Hi there, white friends. I want to talk to you for just a minute and I’m going to be using the CAPS to highlight, not to yell. I see you out there, marching and trying to be better than you were last year, last month, last week, yesterday. I…

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I Recently Left the LDS Church and Here is Why

I made a video to explain my answers to the most-asked questions. Why I Left the LDS Church from Leah Peterson on Vimeo.

Example Letter – Phyllis

Update: I’ve moved my campaign to GoFundMe! Welcome. You’ve probably heard of the campaign I’m running over on Kickstarter for my new book, Unconventional Gratitude. It’s a collection of letters to important women in my life and a reminder to look for ways to overcome getting caught in the downward swirl of depression in these trying times. So, if you’re sitting unshowered in your jimmy-jams on the couch unable to make sense of the world outside, but you did get to eat a donut sometime earlier, so at least you have that going for you – this book is for…

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Kickstarter: The Unconventional Gratitude Book!

UPDATE: This Kickstarter did not successfully fund. Please join me at the new location of this project: on GoFundMe. _____ Do you like making the best out of a terrible situation (after you’re done feeling crappy and working through your feelings)? Then, have I got a book for you! Unconventional Gratitude is my way of saying thank you to many important women in my life. You might know some of them! My gratitude to them is interwoven with my life story in something called an epistolary memoir, which sounds lofty, but which is, in fact, just me trying to find…

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Bisexual White American Female

It’s December 22, 2016. I’ve just written my mom an email. The contents of this email include me breaking her heart. I’ve thought of a dozen reasons not to write it and fought with myself about it for over two months but at the end of this day, I will go to sleep knowing she knows the truth. The peace I feel from that thought engulfs me and I hit send. ***** I’m eight. I was just baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I’ve been waiting for this day because ever since I…

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When Donald Trump Wins

So. Donald Trump won. He won the first time with a little help from his friends and he won a second time when the Electoral College cast their votes today. That image is from when Pennsylvania voted. Just a stream of sad and mad emojis for 45 minutes across my screen. This is our reality now. We’re living in the Trump America Reality Show. And we all have to take responsibility for it, especially if you’re a white, straight American. And I say that knowing full-well that no non-white American would think otherwise, because they have known for, oh, always,…

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Communication 101

Growing up, my mom sat down with us every few months and taught us a new principle of conversation. It should be noted that I did not like these meetings. I wanted to watch Scooby Doo, but it was a requirement, and so I tried to quiet my interrupting voice and keep my fidgeting limbs still so I could learn about things like Reflective Listening and the Broken Record technique. To have a conversation means to give and receive words, ideas, views, thoughts, and feelings. If I look objectively on what happens on Facebook, other social media platforms, and often…

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Onward – Day 20

MARMALADE I come to the beach Heart deflated Breath flat and simple. I sit on the dune Waves smashing Sun bronze and dipping. I watch the pelicans Wings beating Formations ebb and flow. I soak in burnt color God’s palette Marmalade and scarlet red. I brush sand off my feet Soul infused Life fat and possible. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ We’re on day #20 since we, the Americans, voted to put Trump in office this coming term. These past twenty days have felt like a gut-punch mixed with some invaluable family…

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A Mormon Speaking Out

Buckle up. It’s a long one. Since the day of the election, I have been looking for prominent LDS people who are speaking out against what’s happening as Trump puts highly questionable people in his cabinet and violence has erupted around the country in his name. I feel pretty alone in being an LDS member and wanting to speak out about what’s happening. And with the exception of an absolutely beautiful piece by my new friend Jennifer Borget, who is a Mormon and also a Black woman, I can only find very few talking about it. The church put out…

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White Privilege

When I wrote my guide for white people about systemic racism, the main feedback I’ve received in emails and direct messages from white people is some variation of, “I’m not racist. Stop calling me that. My life was/is hard. I don’t have white privilege.” There’s a big misconception out there of what it means to have white privilege. Having white privilege is not a “bad” thing. It is a responsibility. I tell you this with all the love in my heart, white people. Here’s how you know if you have white privilege: Are you white? Do you have white skin?…

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Hidden Gifts

This past year or so I’ve been trying to find the gifts in whatever life hands me. When I’m stuck in traffic, maybe it’s that I got to hear something really great on NPR before I reached my destination. If I dropped and shattered a favorite heirloom glass serving bowl, maybe it’s that when I swept the floor I found the missing earring I’ve been looking for under the fridge. You get the idea. The game is thus: can I find the gift no matter how deeply it’s hidden, because I really and truly have to believe in a God…

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Holding Space for the Broken Hearted

The sister of Empathy is called Holding Space. They hold hands a lot and hang out together watching old episodes of M.A.S.H., sharing a bag of BBQ potato chips, and wiping their red-tipped fingers on their jeans. Empathy, as we’ve discussed, is when you can feel what another person is feeling by making them human to you because you can identify their experience with something that’s happened in your own life. Holding Space is when you give that other person all the room they need to process their emotions without judgment, shame, or irritation, and you don’t try to fix…

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A White Lady’s Guide to Systemic Racism

Hello, White People. I’m glad you’re here. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a fight because you’re mad I’m talking about this, or if you’re happy you found some information you’ve been looking for, or if you’re anywhere in between on the spectrum, welcome. Information is good and the more times you are informed about something new or hard, the easier time you’ll have making peace with it. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable for a little while. Sit with it. It’s going to be ok. [ If you’d like to join a group of people trying to figure out how…

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