Josiah Gouker (pronouns: he/him/his) is a member of the Class of 2022 concentrating in the Department of African American Studies with a certificate in French Language and Culture. Hailing from the small desert town of Yucca Valley, Josiah’s experience in a predominantly white town led him early on to become concerned with the ways in which race operates in society. As one of the relatively few Black people in his high school, he witnessed manifestations of racism on the individual level, never quite grasping the systemic influences of white supremacy and how they played a part in his daily life. He found the language necessary to understand during his first class in African American Studies, “Race Is Socially Constructed: Now What?” His learning from Professor Benjamin assured him that this department would be where he would find his academic home, with the freedom to ask critical questions about race in America.
Josiah’s research interests cast a wide net, but at this moment he is looking into the American ideology of the nation, specifically through the lens of civil religion, and how it is connected to Black oppression. Having always had an interest in policy, he is also interested in the current laws and institutions that perpetuate the suffering of African Americans, as well as discussions on the intersections where Black and LGBTQ+ people are marginalized.
On campus, Josiah is an Assistant Residential College Adviser (ARCA) at Rockefeller College, Advising Fellow with Matriculate, a Peer Arts Adviser for the Lewis Center, an intern at the LGBT Center, and, as a QuestBridge College Match Scholarship recipient, a member of the QuestBridge Scholars Network. In the summer after his first year, Josiah was a policy intern for former HUD Secretary Julián Castro’s presidential campaign, and he was a PICS intern at the National LGBTQ Task Force after his second year. Josiah’s career goals are not solidified, but he hopes to move into law, policy, or academia after Princeton.