Josiah Gouker (pronouns: he/him/his) is a member of the Class of 2022 concentrating in the Department of African American Studies with certificates in French Language and Culture and Gender and Sexuality Studies. 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. He found the language necessary to understand and the causes and manifestations of racism in the U.S. during his first class in African American Studies, “Race Is Socially Constructed: Now What?” Taking this course with Professor Benjamin assured him that this department would be where he would find his academic home, where he had the freedom to ask critical questions about race in America.
Josiah’s research interests cast a wide net. His junior paper, titled "From Coded Language to Codified: The Welfare Queen's Reign over Reagan's 1981 Reform," looked at the policy impacts of the welfare queen myth during the Reagan administration. Now, he has returned to the ideology of the nation, exploring the connection of the American civil religion to today's race issues, especially as it relates to discourses around critical race theory. 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.
Josiah has been a member of the AAS Undergraduate Board of Advisors since 2020. Elsewhere on campus, Josiah is a Residential College Adviser (RCA) at Rockefeller College, an intern at the Gender + Sexuality Resource Center, a columnist and satirist at the Daily Princetonian, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair at the Tower Club, a Head Fellow for the Scholars Institute Fellows Program, 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. His junior year summer was spent as a Student Support Intern at Matriculate. Josiah hopes to continue work in diversity and inclusion positions, lending his insights to making organizations safe places for people with any identity.