Author: Tim Hsiao

Lived Experiences Aren’t Special

Some time ago I found myself in the middle of a discussion about race relations and minority experiences. When it was my chance to speak, I mentioned some statistical data that appeared to challenge the common narrative that racism is widespread and systemic. My interlocutor’s reply was that he simply did not care about the data—his own experiences as a person of color were more important and trumped any appeal to statistics. Another party to the discussion agreed, saying that people matter more than numbers. The title of a recent article by Dawn Butler, a British MP, echoes this sentiment: “Unless you have lived experience of racism there’s no guarantee you’ll understand it.” A host of other politicians have leveraged appeals to lived experience in support of their policy goals. Elsewhere, a reporter for Time describes her lived experiences as a “source of expertise” as opposed to an “emotional bias.” Lived experiences have taken on a near-sacred status under which they cannot be questioned. Case in point: the Facebook group for the news website Vox …