Mindy Kaling's Brother Says He Faked Being Black To Get Into Med School
Mindy Kaling's big brother, Vijay Chokal-Ingam, is claiming that he hatched a twisted scheme in the late 1990s posing as a black man to get into medical school.
If this sounds similar to the plot of the horrible 1986 film Soul Man, where C. Thomas Howell portrays a wealthy student who lands a black-only scholarship to Harvard Law School by donning blackface, you're right. Chokal-Ingam says on his website that the book he's writing about his experience, Almost Black, can be seen as an "updating of this 27-year-old movie," and is a direct outgrowth of his opposition to affirmative action practices.
Chokal-Ingam, who lives in Los Angeles, says that in 1998, he realized he didn't have a good enough GPA or MCAT score to get into medical school. His GPA was 3.1 and his MCAT score was 31, which ranks in the 80-85 percentile for the test, according to BuzzFeed. "So, I shaved my head, trimmed my long Indian eyelashes, and applied to medical school as a black man," he writes on his website. He apparently even joined the Organization of Black Students, and went by his "embarrassing middle name," he says.
"Vijay the Indian-American frat boy become Jojo the African American Affirmative Action applicant to medical school," Chokal-Ingam writes.
Vijay Chokal-Ingam as Vijay and Jojo (Image via AlmostBlack.com)
He tells the New York Post that he didn't hide the fact that he comes from a wealthy family on his applications, but only changed the part about his race.
Chokal-Ingam says he was a "serious contender" for schools like Harvard, Washington University, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia. He eventually landed a spot at St. Louis University Medical School posing as a black man, but dropped out after two years, he tells the Post. "Lucky for you, I never became a doctor," Chokal-Ingam says on his blog, which made our skin crawl reading that. Chokal-Ingam later graduated from UCLA Anderson’s MBA program, where he applied as an Indian-American.
As a way to prove that he isn't lying, Chokal-Ingam has been tweeting out scans of his acceptance letter and applications:
"What started as a devious ploy to gain admission to medical school turned into a twisted social experiment," he writes.
Chokal-Ingam says he's now a professional writer who basically writes resumes and personal statements for applicants applying to college, graduate school and especially medical schools as part of the SOS Career Service in Los Angeles, and he started the LA Resume Service in Los Angeles. This worries us a bit.
Although Chokal-Ingam tells the Post that he loves his sister (whose birth name is Vera Mindy Chokalingam), he says the The Mindy Project star told him that revealing this info would "bring shame on the family." However, it hasn't stopped Chokal-Ingam since he's gone publicly forward with this project. He also seems to have no problem name-dropping his famous sister's name every chance he gets. His Twitter bio says he's "@MindyKaling's brother/nemesis." In his "About Vijay Jojo Chokalingam" section on his website, he says, "My sister Mindy Kaling is the star of The Mindy Project on Fox and the author of the New York Time’s Bestseller Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)."
Chokal-Ingam says that him writing a memoir and documenting this experience is showing his "opposition to affirmative action discrimination." Chokal-Ingam tells the Post: "Racism is not the answer. … It also promotes negative stereotypes about the competency of minority Americans by making it seem like they need special treatment."
In addition, he feels that his experience as a black student helped him learn about the African-American experience as a whole, saying that he was harassed by police and was accused of shoplifting by a clerk.
Stereo Williams of The Daily Beast argues that Chokal-Ingam has it all wrong, and that it "is insulting to what black people endure in this country, both institutionally and culturally." Williams writes:
It’s not unusual to downplay the institutional obstacles blacks face by comparing their struggles to the individual exceptionalism of first- or second-generation American immigrants. Those who think this way rarely compare the struggles of black people in America to the persecution that many brown people face in their homelands that have fallen into the grips of structural oppression born of economic exploitation and ongoing colonialism. From his approach, it’s obvious that Chokalingam believes that black people are uniquely entitled.