top of page

DEIB and Antisemitism: a Personal Experience

By: Nathaniel R Geyer, DrPH, CPH, GISP

Last year I was elected to be the co-chair of Penn State University Staff Advocacy Committee’s (USAC’s) diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) committee. Unlike the myth propagated in the media, I do not think DEIB is necessarily antisemitism. Although I might disagree with people on this issue, my experience has shown that historically the Jewish population has naturally been one of the most persecuted and targeted groups, yet I admire their persistence and willingness to be open an honest, despite their setbacks.

When I was in second grade my teacher was Jewish and she was the first to recognize my intelligence and empathy towards other people. Although years later when I was a playground with my two nieces, I saw her for the last time, she did not remember me, but had the ability to say thanks before passing away.

Another example was my former girlfriend. She was Jewish and approached me first, I never had one (girlfriend) before and have not had one since. She taught me that I was capable of love.

Considering these two personal experiences, it would be hypocritical for me to promote any sort of antisemitism and I want USAC to be open to disagreement and people of various backgrounds with varied experiences. USAC’s mission is to be representing the needs of staff at Penn State, including religious and disabled minorities.

If there is one thing that this post has reminded me that empathy is not muted in neurodivergent individuals. In fact, as stated in other writings I am a believer in adaptive empathy, where neurodivergent people through personal experience can and should be able to find a way to put themselves in other people's shoes. Too often though I know many people, with me included, get into fights just because of small disagreements. In my opinion can show the appearance of a lack of empathy. For example, I sent an advocacy email and got a complaint by sending to stop emailing. However, because of my adaptive empathy, I choose to not let that bother me. I also realize that there is never anybody that completely agrees with me 100% of the time. That is why I seek first to understand before being understood.

I may not understand why DEIB is antisemitism, but I want to put my best foot forward by aiming to figure out creative solutions to these disagreements and hope to find common ground. I do not want the constant negativity and criticism by others to change my positive outlook of the world.


bottom of page