By Courtney Enlow & TK | Miscellaneous | September 1, 2016 |
By Courtney Enlow & TK | Miscellaneous | September 1, 2016 |
In April of 2015 when I was still writing for VH1, news broke that Mindy Kaling’s brother was writing a book about his harrowing experience living the movie Soul Man.
Going by the name of Jojo (his middle name), Vijay Chokalingam applied to numerous schools and was ultimately accepted into St. Louis University Medical School. Because he got into one school by pretending to be black and rejected by a bunch of schools while both pretending to be black and identifying as his actual race and name, somehow he managed to solve “affirmative action racism” and also tricking women into finding him sexy, I guess?
And now he’s sharing his story. Specifically at this moment, he’s sharing his story with writers who wrote about this. Like me.
In this article you wrote last year, you had some strong opinions about me posing as black to get into medical school. What I would like to say in response is that, if being a “jerk” means I didn’t roll over like a slave when someone wanted to discriminate against me based on my race, then I’ll gladly take the title you gave me.
You might not agree with the extreme measures I took to realize my dream of getting into medical school, but I do believe that my “experiment” with affirmative action sheds important light on critical issues facing our country, such as university admissions and race relations.
In my book Almost Black which is due out on September 13, I chronicled my interview experiences at 11 medical schools posing as a black man, including Ivy League schools such as Columbia University and Yale University. Particularly, I discussed how I survived an accusation of lying about my race during an interview at Case Western Reserve, and how I was praised by a professor at University of Pittsburgh for being “a role model for African Americans everywhere.” I was admitted into St. Louis University with a 3.1 GPA, which is dramatically lower than their average acceptance GAP of 3.7.
With regards to my sister Mindy Kaling’s comment that “this book will bring shame on our family,” you will find in my book that she was actually the first person to jokingly suggest that I write a book about my story. “This whole scam of yours is actually pretty cool. It’s surprisingly funny. I’m proud of you.” What’s more, she saved me from being caught by advising me to withdraw applications from Harvard School of Medicine and Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine for fear that her personal ties with the two schools might expose my real racial identity.
The simple truth is: thousands of Asian Americans and Whites are rejected from the colleges and graduate schools of their dreams because of affirmative action racism. My sister Mindy Kaling is a talented comedian and writer, but I still remember the day she cried when she got rejected from Harvard.
When your child gets a rejection letter from their dream schools, do you want to tell them that they are not good enough? Or that they are rejected because of the color of their skin? I hope that by reading my book, you will have an answer to that question.
Almost Black is now preordering and will be released on September 13. I’m happy to send over an advance copy — do you prefer paperback, Kindle, EPUB, or PDF version?
Here’s the thing. No. According to CNN, “he applied at 22 medical schools and interviewed at 11. He was wait-listed at four schools and got into only one.” What does this prove? That medical schools will let you in with zero understanding of how scientific research works?
But you have to admit that email’s got everything. We’ve got blaming the famous sister. We’ve got doubling down on a racist premise despite his less-than-sound-to-say-the-least scientific method. Finally and most importantly, WE GOT SALES! Because that’s what this is all about. This is not about upending a so-called racist system, you know, the system that is a response to a long-existing system that disproportionately and more accurately only helps white people. Nor is it about the nonsense science of applying to a bunch of different schools and happening to get into one, crying RACISM because you cut your hair and used your middle name while still using your very Indian last name, and then dropping out anyway. It’s about money. Money and fame.
Hi there. Not to confuse things, but this is no longer Courtney speaking. It’s TK, your friendly neighborhood fury spout. And I decided to pitch in to this post because in an odd way, I’m uniquely qualified to do so. Just to get it out of the way, as many of you know, I’m South African. Born to a pair of mixed-race parents, and of particular interest is my father, who is both Black and Indian. And I have to say, as the resident mixed race, part-Black, part-Indian person around here? I still call bullshit on this. First of all, it once again demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what affirmative action actually is, and while I hate having to give this lesson for the 1000th time, it looks like a refresher is due. Affirmative Action is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, about taking a less-qualified person of a specific minority group over a more-qualified person. It is about providing increased opportunity. It is about ensuring , when one is marketing, advertising, interviewing and admitting, that you are casting as wide a net as possible in order to provide opportunities to those who — through racism, institutionalized or otherwise and through other socio-economic barriers — have historically not been afforded those opportunities. It is about achieving parity. It is about ensuring diversity and fairness through hiring and admissions practices and policies, about ensuring that discrimination — voluntary or otherwise — is not occurring. If anything, it is the opposite of what he has written about.
What is unfortunate and sadly ironic about Vijay Chokalingam’s words is how it shows a fundamental lack of understanding of privilege. Chokalingam’s collection of misdirections, dog whistles, and false equivalencies demonstrates the worst kind of shameful deliberate obstinance and willful ignorance. Using his sister’s denial from Harvard as evidence of Ivy League racism is foolish and without further information is particularly egregious, especially since his sister was educated at a ritzy grade school and then ended up at Dartmouth. That’s not to say that one should belittle the dreams of someone who truly wanted Harvard more than anything else — I’m not doing that and never would. But saying that she only got into arguably the second best school in the country is evidence of racism with no further argument is not a particularly useful point to make, especially when one follows it up with mawkish pleas to think of one’s own widdle childwen. Every emotional note he tries to touch on rings false, from using his sister to claiming that someone called him “a model for African Americans everywhere.” That may even be true. Hell, why wouldn’t it be true? You were lying to them.
But what hurts most about this is that it’s going to work. It’s going to sell books, and it’s going to work on many who, like Chokalingam, have a fundamental misunderstanding of affirmative action and, yes, even racism. It’s going to get him on the talk show circuit, get him the attention he so clearly craves. It’s going to feed the Trump followers and the Fox News watchers, the Abigail Fishers, and the racist uncles. It’s going to say to them “LOOK! Even this dark-skinned fella says it’s racist!” when in fact all it really is? Is just another kind of ignorant.
Thanks for the book offer, Vijay. We’re good. But we will thank you for any and all pageviews and ad revenue this post receives, which will be donated to the UNCF.