Almost Black: The True Story of How I Got Into Medical School By Pretending to Be Black, by Naomi Schafer Riley. An Indian fellow decided to pretend to be black, in the racist USA.
Vijay [Chokal-Ingam] wanted to become a doctor like his mother. But upon realizing how hard it was, he tried another route. He saw that a friend of his from a similar ethnic and educational background did not get into a single medical school. So he decided to pretend he was African-American.
Despite mediocre grades and board scores, he was interviewed by 11 of the 14 elite medical schools he applied to and was admitted to one. Though he made no claim to be disadvantaged — admissions committees were aware that his parents were well-off professionals, that he went to expensive schools and that he needed no financial aid — he was treated like someone who needed a leg up in life merely because he was black.
When the truth came out, critics jumped on Chokal-Ingam. Writing for CNN, Jeff Yang called the ploy “offensive.” The Daily Beast’s Stereo Williams says it is “insulting to what black people endure in this country, both institutionally and culturally.” Writing at Yahoo News, Jamilah King says, “What makes Chokal-Ingam’s argument especially hard to stomach is that it diminishes the hardships faced by black medical-school students and doctors.”
However ham-handed you find his bait-and-switch and the resulting memoir, the truth is that Chokal-Ingam said something perfectly obvious about affirmative action. When you give preference to one racial group, you take away something from another.
Which is why so many South and East Asians are denied admissions to good universities across the country — when they are more qualified than the kids who do get in. According to “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal,” a book by two Princeton professors released in 2009, an Asian-American student must score 450 points higher on the combined math and verbal sections of the SAT to have the same chance of being admitted to an elite university as an African-American applicant.
His sister provides a funny contrast:
When Vijay Jojo Chokal-Ingam published a memoir last month called “Almost Black: The True Story of How I Got Into Medical School By Pretending to Be Black,” his sister, the comedian Mindy Kaling, allegedly said it would “bring shame on our family.” Chokal-Ingam told The Post that it was his sister who was the problem: “You play a slut on national TV, and you think this [book] will bring shame on the family?”
Poor Vijay. Like many of us, he has missed the memo from today’s PC society that being a slut is good. But pointing out that affirmative action can hurt others is bad.