Coffee Rhetoric: Black Like Me: How Mindy Kaling's Brother Claims He Duped Academia by Posing As a Black Man

April 06, 2015

Black Like Me: How Mindy Kaling's Brother Claims He Duped Academia by Posing As a Black Man

Unpopular opinion: there are non-Black people of color who map out their American dream through the lens of white supremacy, cultivate their characters and make names for themselves by co-opting (or exploiting) the voices and experiences of Black-Americans, and who try to peddle some agenda by throwing Black people under the bus. And it’s something that has always stuck in my craw, because whatever the motive, ‘Blackness’ (whether it be through cultural appropriation or the perpetuation of anti-Blackness) seems to serve as the impetus for how some non-Black people of color attain upward mobility and notoriety.

In any event, Vijay Chokal-Ingam, the older brother of South Asian-American comedic actress and showrunner Mindy Kaling, is no exception. Vijay is kicking up dust on social media by claiming to have once concocted a ploy—turned nefarious social experiment—as an undergrad, in which he pretended to be a Black man to garner acceptance into a medical school, and continued with his alleged charade for 2 years, during his stint. 


During his junior year at the University of Chicago, Vijay came to the sobering realization that his college GPA and  test scores didn't pass muster with academic administrators at choice medical schools, so alleges he thought he’d try Blackness on for size to prove some convoluted point about affirmative-action, because as par for the course, detractors seem to think affirmative-action is an undeserved entitlement that solely benefits what they perceive to be, unqualified or underachieving Black folks; white women (especially) and working-age people with disabilities be damned. 
“In my junior year of college, I realized that I didn't have the grades or test scores to get into medical school, at least not as an Indian-American. Still, I was determined to become a doctor and I know that admission standards for certain minorities under affirmative action were, let’s say… less stringent?”   Vijay writes on his website,
“So, I shaved my head, trimmed my long Indian eyelashes, and applied to medical school as a black man. …Vijay the Indian-American frat boy become Jojo the African American Affirmative Action applicant to medical school.”
While performing his 21st century rendition of a minstrel show, Jojo Vijay claims to have applied to 11 top tier medical schools in 9 major American cities, yet (and still) only managed to get an acceptance letter from one... St. Louis University School of Medicine.
Vijay also rambles on about the injustice of “affirmative action racism", but fleetingly mentions having fallen victim to police harassment and hostility from store clerks—I’m assuming because the disingenuous conservative narrative he's trying to construct can't be bogged down by details like history, power-dynamics, institutional racism and racial profiling—and says his 'Black mojo' invoked revulsion and sexual desire in women,
“Cops harassed me. Store clerks accused me of shoplifting. Women were either scared of me or couldn't keep their hands off of me.” 
So, in summation, Vijay (who eventually dropped out of med school after two years and got an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management as himself—a South Asian-American man from a well-to-do family) has decided to spill open about his past as a deceptive, anti-Black con-artist via a forthcoming book he’s co-authoring called, Almost Black… A story that likens itself to the comedic stylings of the 1986 film Soul Man and the ‘poignant’ and ‘wrenching’ tone of John Howard Griffin’s book Black Like Me, but is really a stunt-and-show by a man projecting whatever feelings of academic ineptitude he grappled with, onto Black folks.


And like most people who love to shit on Black-Americans are won’t to do, he's using his online platforms to rail against affirmative action, is making sure to continue using Blackness as a rhetorical device to promote his interests and has hailed fellow anti-affirmative action whiner, Abigail Fisher as “the Rosa Parks of our time."  

In an interview with the New York Post, Vijay Chokal-Ingam says his sister is, unsurprisingly, displeased with his histrionics. Also, according to his co-conspirator co-author,
“Mindy, who’s known and loved this story for years, read the proposal and lit into Vijay like an enraged badger. She told him the book would ‘bring shame on our family.’ Funny, since Vijay points out she plays a slut on national TV. Vijay is convinced his sister is furious he’s trying to horn in on her comedic territory.”

Well, alrighty then.


No further word on how, exactly, Vijay was able to convincingly fudge his racial background on applications without arousing suspicion (Because I'm still trying to determine if this is some sort of elaborate troll-a-thon for attention.), whether he, undoubtedly and without question, only got into the one medical school because admissions thought he was Black, why he felt the need to clip his eyelashes to convey the role (Black men have enviably lush eyelashes.) or what his opinion is on opportunists who use their famous sister’s celebrity to promote themselves.