This just in, Mindy Kaling has a brother who is totally racist... maybe? Many stories like this have surfaced the past week. In them are varying accounts about Mindy Kaling's estranged brother and how he "duped" admissions counselors across America by pretending to be black. Many are outraged by what is perceived as a racist attempt to infiltrate black culture but the results of Vijay Chokal-Ingam's charade are quite astounding. While top colleges were rejecting his Indian classmates of higher academic stature, Chokal-Ingam found himself being considered a competitive applicant whilst touting a lower GPA and test scores.
While Vijay eventually decided that medical school was not the career for him, the experience of "black privilege" inspired him to write an memoir in which he will discuss themes of racism and discrimination in the Asian community. He believes programs such as affirmative action that have traditionally been hailed as restorative subsidies for disenfranchised Black, Latino, and Indigenous Americans have reversely affected the prosperity of Asian-Americans.
His antics have proven divisive, earning him a bevy of complaints from the black community and even a subtle disowning from his own sister. However, does he have a point?
Racial stereotyping has boosted Asians as being the "model minority" especially in academia. It is even supported statistically as 42 percent of Asian Americans have college degrees. While that percentage is the highest average among any other ethnic minority group it does not account for the disparity of academic achievement amongst the diaspora (Chinese and South Asians make up the bulk of the degree earning class while immigrants particularly from Mainland Southeast Asia are at an economic disadvantage).
When incorporated into the college admissions process that competitive applications for Asian students are higher than the projected averages given by the universities and while many universities pride themselves on considering the hardship and environmental factors of an applicant, it is abundantly apparent that Asian-Americans are admitted on a quota status.
None of these issues or statistics directly applies to Vijay Chokal-Ingam; he hailed from a wealthy background in Massachusetts. In fact, as an American of Indian heritage, he is more inclined to be favored by universities than others in the diaspora and even if affirmative action programs were adjusted to account for ethnic issues over race they would more than likely not favor him. However, in his demonstration he makes a valiant point about the discrimination of an underrepresented community. While many may consider his actions and memoir as a more modern form of "blackface," it should not be forgotten that it was not long ago that black students chose to identify as white in order to receive equal opportunities in education. While the jury may be out on Chokal-Ingam's moral fervor as an activist, just because an act is racial, does not make it racist.