Matthew Oakland, proudly hailing from Sacramento, California, is a member of the class of 2020. Informed and shaped by the sociopolitical, linguistic, and ethnic dynamics of his home state, his academic interests encompass broadly questions of race, class, gender, diaspora, identity, and language. As a Mellon Mays Fellow, he hopes to diversify the academy, an ambition he plans to achieve through the pursuit of a Ph.D. program on his way to becoming a professor.
One of his favorite classes at Princeton was “Spanish in the Community,” taught by Alberto Bruzos Moro, which focused on the relationship between language and identity formation and examined the ways in which the Spanish language is weaponized as an indication of non-assimilation and opposition to the U.S. nation project. It was through such classes that Matthew came to the decision to focus on the widespread erasure of Afro-Latinx and Afro-Latin American people from the archives of Latin American/Caribbean Studies, delimiting his future academic focus. As such, he intends to pursue the Global Race and Ethnicity subfield, under which he will interrogate and problematize the multimodality of racial discrimination in Latin America and the Caribbean, centering such work on the experiences and stories of those historically marginalized.
On campus, Matthew splits his time between two campus jobs; serves as a member of the Black Organization for Leadership Development (B.O.L.D.); volunteers with the Petey Greene Prison tutor program; serves as a LGBT center peer educator; dances hip-hop with DiSiac Dance Company; and is a founding member of the Black Student-Alumni Coalition, which brought notable guest Craig Robinson ‘83 as a keynote speaker to an inter-generational networking event.