If you are profiting in any way from another person’s lived experience story, that person should be compensated.

Media attention is not compensation.
Name mentions are not compensation.
Attribution is not compensation.
Gift cards are not compensation.
Pizza parties are not compensation.
Free “services” are not compensation.
IOUs are not compensation.

People are out here using the trauma and pain stories of others to make a living and then asking those people to share them out of the generosity of their hearts. As someone who has lived and breathed nonprofit work, I know we can’t always pay someone. But we should try to do everything we can to compensate while always being transparent.

People are soliciting stories for website visits, speaking opportunities, fundraising, and media attention. These same folks think that people are getting valued by being recognized. This is tokenization. It is dehumanizing. It demeans stories and is exploitative.

If you ask to access someone’s story, be prepared to compensate or value them equitably.

We must recognize that we do not have rights to people’s trauma and pain. How dare we disempower folks who probably went through an excruciatingly disempowering experience by assuming we have a right to access their stories.

Stories are sacred.
They are immeasurably valuable.

What is the fair market value of trauma? How can we continue to be okay with telling people their pain should not equate to financial compensation?

We pay for every other kind of expertise and consulting. Yet we’ve decided we have a right to free access to this space.

The landscape of lived experience inclusion is shifting as we speak. It’s time we move into meaningful engagement.

#livedexperienceisexperience #paypeople #livedexperience


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