When I read this news yesterday, I couldn’t help but check the date to make sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. It wasn’t April 1st, but that just made the news all the more bizarre, especially since his sister Mindy Kaling (“The Office” and “The Mindy Project”) is one of the most well known Indians and South Asians on television these days. The story goes, according to her brother, Vijay Chokal-Ingam, himself that he claimed to be black to get into medical school. On his blog, almostblack.com he writes that when he was a junior in college he “realized that I didn’t have the grades or test scores to get into medical school, at least not as an Indian-American. Still, I was determined to become a doctor and I knew that admission standards for certain minorities under affirmative action were, let’s say… less stringent?”
In order to completely put the plan into action, Vijay decided to fully commit to becoming a black man and get into medical school using this route. He describes on his blog, “I shaved my head, trimmed my long Indian eyelashes, and applied to medical school as a black man. My change in appearance was so startling that my own fraternity brothers didn’t recognize me at first. I even joined the Organization of Black Students and started using my embarrassing middle name [Jojo] that I had hidden from all of my friends since I was a 9 years old.” On Twitter, further described, “For the record, I never lied about anything except my race. Jojo is my Bengali namesake.” and went on to post a link to his full application (see here) .
Although he claims that the change came with some negative repercussions – cops harassed him, store clerks thought he was a shoplifter – he claims to have received admission to some top ranked schools like Harvard University, Washington University, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Case Western University, and Columbia University (see acceptance letter snapshots he posted here)! Vijay claims in totality he interviewed at “eleven prestigious medical schools in 9 major cities across America, while posing a black man.” Ultimately, he attended Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine in 1999, but dropped out two years later as he says all of this was done to bring to light some of the flaws he sees with affirmative action programs!
These days, Vijay has been active on Twitter speaking out against affirmative action, tweeting that “#affirmativeaction is DISCRIMINATION.” He has told publications that his sister Mindy thinks his exposing his story to the world will “bring shame” upon their family, but he feels so strongly about the issue that he wanted to speak up! What are your thoughts on this Urban Asian readers? Do you feel that affirmative action programs should end? Do you think South Asians do face more scrutiny and more stringent requirements for admission into such programs? Let us know!