Actress/comedienne Mindy Kaling’s brother, affirmative action foe Vijay Chokal-Ingam, 38, made national headlines with the revelation that he entered medical school back in the day under false pretenses by self identifying as African-American in the application process.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the self-described fraternity party boy from an affluent Indian-American family claims on his Almost Black website, also the title of an upcoming book, that affirmative action got him past the otherwise highly selective, competitive, and burdensome admissions process despite his so-so college grades and test scores.
He opted for this prescription, as it were, after learning that a high-achieving close friend also of Indian-American heritage was rejected by no less than 15 medical schools.
To further implement his scheme to circumvent the medical school gatekeepers by posing as a black man, Chokal-Ingam altered his appearance by shaving his head and started going by the moniker Jojo, his seldom-used middle name, and joined the Organization of Black Students at the University of Chicago where he was pursuing his undergraduate degree. He was ultimately accepted at the St. Louis University School of Medicine.
Affirmative action “destroys the dreams of millions of Indian-American, Asian American, and white applicants for employment and higher education. It also creates negative stereotypes about the academic abilities and professional skills of African-American and Hispanic professionals, who don’t need special assistance in order to compete with other minority groups,” Vijay Chokal-Ingam declared on the Almost Black website.
Vijay’s mom was a real-life physician, while his sister Mindy Kaling, as everyone knows, plays one on TV in the sitcom The Mindy Project after previously starring in The Office. “I wanted to be a doctor mainly because my mom was a doctor and she was universally loved by her patients. I was immensely proud of her,” Ingam wrote in a New York Post op-ed.
He left med school without finishing the program, however. “After two years and a lot of soul searching I realized I just wasn’t cut out to be a doctor. I dropped out of medical school for many reasons, but not being black was not one of them. Even if I never became a doctor, at least my sister did: on television,” the Post article added.
Ingam went on to earn an MBA at UCLA without the benefit of any affirmative action preference and subsequently launched a business as a professional college admissions counselor and resume writer. UCLA is apparently considering reinstating some form of affirmative action which Vijay Chokal-Ingam fundamentally opposes. “I hope to combat efforts to reestablish affirmative action at UCLA by speaking about my experiences with affirmative action,” he explains on his website.
“I am not convinced that affirmative action fully benefits the underprivileged … Second, I think that affirmative action tends to promote racial resentment and perpetuates negative stereotypes,” he further emphasized in the Post essay.
Vijay Chokal-Ingam granted the following exclusive interview to The Inquistr in the aftermath of the recent controversy. Note that Ingam refers to himself on his Twitter feed as an affirmative action “hactivist” which he described in the interview as “someone who infiltrates and undermines the system from the inside, exposing its hypocrisy.”
Inquisitr: What is the status of the Almost Black memoir project?
VCI: Matthew Scott Hansen (Andy Kaufman Revealed! co-author) and I are in the process of writing the book now. Currently, we plan to finish the book and publish it in time for January 2016, Martin Luther King Day, and Black History Month. We have not decided on a publisher.
Inquisitr: You maintain that affirmative action is a form of legalized racism. Why?
VCI: Affirmative action is “legalized” because, like slavery and segregation, it is condoned by the U.S. government, supported by the Supreme Court, encoded in federal and state laws, and tolerated in private employers and nonprofit educational institutions by employment and education law. Affirmative action is “racism” because it creates a classification system based on race and then allows people to be treated differently based on their racial identity, increasing or decreasing their chances of receiving an offer of employment or admission to an educational institution.
Inquisitr: What do you think of the lawsuit recently filed by a group of Asian-American students challenging the Harvard Univ. admissions policy?
VCI: I think that the Harvard lawsuit is well-intentioned but ineffectual. We need a political solution, based on votes and public policy debate, not a lawsuit. Historically, our court system has failed to solve the important problems of racism in our country. Dred Scott (slavery), Plessy vs. Ferguson (segregation), and Bakke (affirmative action) are great examples. Each of these decisions had negative consequences that lasted for generations. If we depended on our court system, slavery would still be legal in the U.S.
Inquisitr: The original Inquisitr article was met with many hostile tweets, including those accusing you of racism, and sometimes hurling profanity your way. How do you feel about that kind of polarized reaction?
VCI: People have every right to be angry about the racism they have faced. However, my point is that more racism in the form of affirmative action is not the solution.
Inquisitr: Test scores and grades don’t always provide an accurate measuring stick for an individual’s potential. Should educational institutions — even med school — take other factors such as emotional intelligence, income, real-world experience, and work ethic into account?
VCI: As an admissions consultant for Interview SOS in Los Angeles, I am well aware of the importance of other subjective factors in the application process such as letters of recommendation, professional experience, application essays, and interview performance. These subjective factors are important in detecting if an otherwise stellar candidate might do poorly as in the examples you cited. An applicant who presents himself/herself well in subjective factors in the application process can dramatically improve their chances of admission or vice versa. In fact, helping applicants to do better in these subjective portions of the admissions process is my bread and butter at Interview SOS.
I posted my very mediocre medical school application on the internet to show that I was not an otherwise outstanding applicant. It’s not like I got into med school because I discovered the cure for cancer in between frat parties in college. The applications I help my clients to write today at Interview SOS are much better than my own back in 1998.
It is critical to assess other factors than grades and test scores in determining the best candidates for any position, but there is a great deal of autocorrelation between these factors. People who do well in school and on standardized test have a strong tendency to do better in interviews, essays, letters of recommendation, and employment. I support the use of subjective factors to assess the overall qualifications of a candidate.
Inquisitr: In a May 2014 piece about affirmative action, historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote that “Class divisions are mostly ignored in admissions and hiring criteria, but in today’s diverse society, they often pose greater obstacles than race. The children of one-percenters such as Beyoncé and Jay-Z will have doors opened to them that are not open to those in Pennsylvania who, according to President Obama, ‘cling to guns or religion.’” Any thoughts?
VCI: People forget that race and class are not the same. I exposed every aspect of my very fortunate background in my application to medical school including having professional parents (physician and architect), not needing financial aid, having a nice car, going to expensive private schools, etc. Still, medical schools such as the Case Western Reserve University considered me one of their “affirmative action candidates.” I support a system that provides benefit to individuals based on underprivileged background but not racial classification.
Inquisitr: St. Louis Univ. Medical School told the New York Daily News that your “MCAT scores and science grade point average met SLU’s criteria for admission at that time, and his race or ethnicity did not factor into his acceptance into the University.” Do you think that statement is accurate?
VCI: I posted a whole blog entry on this issue. In summary, I had a 3.1 GPA and SLU’s average GPA at the time was 3.7. The school publicly committed to a racial quota system in medical school admissions that they called “3000 by 2000.” I leave it up to the intelligence and judgment of your readers to determine the accuracy of their statement. Do you think that the medical school lets in every kid with a 3.1 GPA or do you think that they cut me a lot of slack because I applied as an African-American affirmative action applicant?
Inquisitr: Apart from St. Louis Univ., what other med schools accepted you? Were you formally rejected at others or put on waiting list?
VCI: SLU was the only medical school that admitted me of the 22 schools I applied to. I got waitlisted at Washington Univ., UPenn, Case Western Reserve Univ., and Mount Sinai. The first two were ranked the 3rd and 4th best med schools in America at the time, so it was a huge honor just to be waitlisted. I was surprised that any of these medical schools interviewed me, let alone waitlisted me. They never took me off their wait lists. It’s also notable that I think that several of the schools may have figured out that I was not black and didn’t accept me as a result. As a professional admissions consultant for Interview SOS, I know that the average medical school applicant applies to 15 medical schools and only gets into one or two. So my experiences were actually very typical, except for the fact that my grades were very low.
Inquisitr: What motivated you originally to want to become a medical doctor in the first place?
VCI: I had a great experience working in Labor and Delivery at a hospital, and it motivated me to become a physician. Also, my mother was a physician, and at least partially there was a cultural influence. My parents were enlightened enough to give me the freedom to choose my own career. That’s how my sister became a comedian.
Inquisitr: On the subject of family, Mindy Kaling — who you describe on your Twitter feed as her brother/nemesis — has through a publicist described your relationship with her as estranged. Have you discussed what the New York Post called your “race ruse” with Mindy Kaling?
VCI: After considerable thought and reflection I have realized that talking about my family is not a good thing. I guess it’s safe to say that I my family (and sister) disapprove of what I am doing. Of course, the nemesis reference is just joking around! I am not Superman and Mindy is not Lex Luthor (or vice versa). I am too busy to bother with a “nemesis.”
Inquisitr: Although the statute of limitations, if any, probably has run out, were or are there any legal ramifications or consequences for falsifying admission data which in this case was just the race of the applicant?
VCI: I claimed I was “black” on my application, and I never lied about anything except my race. Rommel Nobay, an Indian American, tried to do the same thing I did (pose as black) the year before me. He got caught because he lied about a bunch of other things on his application such as being a National Merit Scholar. They never proved he wasn’t black. Race is a slippery slope. Black is a color not a race. There is no place called “Blackistan” that “black” people come from. My skin is darker than most African-Americans. I think I could argue in open court that I am as “black” as anyone else and that I have the right to define myself however I chose.
Inquisitr: This question has been raised numerous times on social media. As a practical matter, in the application screening, wouldn’t the med schools have noticed the discrepancy on your high school or undergraduate transcripts as far as the Vijay vs. Jojo name?
VCI: The medical schools never requested my high school transcript. [In the Post article, he explained that “I transposed my middle name with my first name and became Jojo, the African-American applicant.”]
Inquisitr: Why did you drop out of med school?
VCI: I could write a whole book about why I dropped out of medical school called “Lucky for You, I Never Became a Doctor.” As a medical school student, I found that I lacked the clinical skills to become a great doctor. As a Hindu, I believe in Karma, and I think that I was destined to never become a doctor because of the way I got in. Lying has negative consequences.
Inquisitr: Do you have any misgivings about at least theoretically taking the place in the incoming class of someone who might have finished the program and gone on to a career in medicine?
VCI: I regret taking a spot from anyone who was more qualified than I was. Still, I was selfish enough to take the spot, at least at the time.
Inquisitr: Is there any overlap or irony given your current career and your past medical school affirmative action scheme?
VCI: LA Resume Service is my resume business and Interview SOS is my admissions consulting business. I don’t suggest that clients ever lie. However, if a client is Hispanic or Black or Native American, I suggest that they disclose their racial identity on their applications, and if a client is white or Asian that they decline to disclose. This maximizes their chances of admission.
If someone asks an inappropriate question in an interview (race, religion, gender), I suggest that my client say “I don’t want to answer that question, but I would be happy to discuss my qualifications for [this job or educational institution].”
I understand the stress facing applicants for employment and higher education and the temptation to lie. Still, I show clients legal ways to market themselves more effectively by articulating their skills and accomplishments in clear and concise language and getting effective letters of recommendation. These days, I use my knowledge of the admissions process for good and not evil.
Inquisitr: Do you think the Almost Black revelation will enhance or detract from your credibility or business opportunities with clients?
VCI: I am very good at what I do (admissions consultant, interview coach, and resume writer). I understand the application process for jobs and higher education and show my clients how to market themselves more effectively. It is actually quite a rare skill, even in business school. I am not worried about my book negatively impacting my business.
Still, I don’t want to encourage people to lie. If you are worried about getting a job or getting into an educational institution, lying is not the answer. Learn about the process and how to market yourself more effectively. Hire an admissions consultant or resume writer like me. Don’t lie.
Inquisitr: The Almost Black website alludes to pluses and minuses of your strategy. We have to ask–did you really become more popular with the ladies?
VCI: I remember being at a rock concert and fraternity party when a girl hit on me, in front of my girlfriend. The first time, I thought it was a fluke. The second time, I realized that this must be Jojo’s mojo. I remember thinking “none of this stuff ever happened to me back when I was Indian.” I had a serious girlfriend, so I never went anywhere with it, but let me tell you for certain, girls were much more into me when I was black.
Inquisitr: Do you have any political aspirations?
VCI: No; I have done too many naughty things in my life to ever run for office.
Inquisitr: Looking back, do you have any regrets about what you called a “twisted social experiment”?
VCI: I should not have lied. Lying has negative consequences. [In an interview on the Fox Business Channel embedded below, Vijay acknowledged that “you make different decisions when you’re 22 than you do when you’re 38.”]
Inquisitr: What’s next for Vijay Chokal-Ingam?
VCI: I have a couple of additional book ideas in me when this is done. The funny thing is that none of them have anything to do with race.
Watch Vijay Chokal-Ingam’s interview with Kennedy on the Fox Business Channel about gaming the affirmative action system to get into medical school.
What do you think of the views about affirmative action in college admissions put forth by Mindy Kaling’s older brother, Vijay Chokal-Ingam? Sound off below.
[image via Twitter]