Lived Experience. “Lived experience” means an individual’s personal experience with oppression. In particular, it means a member of a minority group’s experience with being discriminated against. Members of the majority group, like straight white men, cannot talk about their lived experience because they have not been oppressed. They can, however, talk about their lived experience if they have discriminated against members of the minority group. For example, a straight white man can tell stories about how he discriminated against gay people. This is his lived experience as an “oppressor.”
Here’s where it gets interesting: members of minority groups, like black men, who say they were not oppressed, cannot talk about their lived experience because they claim to not be oppressed. Only minorities who say they have experienced discrimination can speak about their lived experience. The lived experience of a black man, for example, who states he was never pulled over by the police, is not legitimate or authentic. All “lived experience” must point to discrimination or else it is not valid.