Tags: Affirmative Action | medical school | quota | Mindy Kaling | brother

Mindy Kaling's Brother: Affirmative Action Doesn't Really Work

By    |   Sunday, 12 Apr 2015 10:43 AM

Actress Mindy Kaling plays a doctor on TV, but her brother pretended to be an African-American to be accepted into medical school, but he doesn't think affirmative action programs really work.

"At the time, it seemed like a good idea," writes Vijay Chokal-Ingam, brother of "The Mindy Project" actress Mindy Kaling, in a Sunday column for The New York Post after he stirred up controversy when he revealed his deception recently.

Chokal-Ingam grew up in Boston as the son of Indian immigrants, and decided in college that he wanted to be a doctor because his mother was one.

"One of my closest friends, nicknamed Boots — Indian-American like me — shared my dream," he writes, "But what happened to Boots next chilled me to my marrow."

His friend began applying to medical schools, but after the applied to 15 and was not accepted to any of them, Chokal-Ingram said he decided to take drastic action.

When he was in school in the early 1990s, the Division of Community and Minority Programs of the Association of American Medical Colleges devised Project 3,000 by 2000 that set a quota to increase minority enrollment in medical schools from 1,584 to 3,000 between the years of 1990 to 2000.

But even now, Chokal-Ingram does not agree that affirmative action "fully benefits the underprivileged" and does not agree with some states that are considering reinstating affirmative action programs.

"In my application to medical school, I disclosed that my mother was a doctor, my dad an architect, that I drove a nice car, that I didn’t receive financial aid and that I grew up in an affluent section of Boston," he said. "I didn’t even say that I was "disadvantaged." Yet medical schools such as Case Western Reserve University considered me one of their affirmative-action candidates."

Also, Chokal-Ingram thinks affirmative action promotes racial stereotypes and resentment, and does not believe that it is "really the best solution."

St. Louis University, where Chokal-Ingram went, was part of the program, and Chokal-Ingram says research shows that many schools discriminated against Asian-Americans and white students in favor of blacks and Hispanics.

"I studied the statistics and data made public by the Association of American Medical Colleges and came to a surprising conclusion," he said. "The data suggested that an Indian-American with my grades (3.1 GPA) and test scores (31 MCAT) was unlikely to gain admission to medical school, but an African-American with the same grades and test scores had a high probability of admission."

So Chokal-Ingram said he decided to shave his head, trim his eyelashes, and join the University of Chicago's Organization of Black Students through a black friend who knew about the scam. He also transposed his middle name with the first to become "Jojo", an African-American applicant.

Chokal-Ingram writes that during one interview at Case Western Reserve University, one black doctor confronted him, and asked him tough questions, but eventually got an invitation letter.

"Most of my friends were supportive, although for the longest time they saw it as a fraternity joke, that is until I got wait-listed at the Washington University School of Medicine," he writes. "A few, including my girlfriend, disapproved."

But Chokal-Ingram says he wasn't prepared for how people treated him when they thought he was a black man, including being racially profiled by a security guard and by a police officer during a traffic stop.

"Nothing remotely like this had ever happened when I was just another Indian doctor’s son," he said. "Walking in a black man’s shoes dimmed much of the youthful enthusiasm I’d had about my deception."

Eventually, Chokal-Ingram writes, he got into the St. Louis University School of Medicine, and found it easy to blend in, but after two years, he decided to drop out for many reasons, but not because he was pretending to be black.

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Actress Mindy Kaling plays a doctor on TV, but her brother pretended to be an African-American to be accepted into medical school, but he doesn't think affirmative action programs really work. At the time, it seemed like a good idea, writes Vijay Chokal-Ingam, brother of ...
Affirmative Action, medical school, quota, Mindy Kaling, brother
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2015-43-12
Sunday, 12 Apr 2015 10:43 AM
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