THE FIGHT FOR AND AGAINST AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
POSTED AUGUST 8TH, 2017 | BY RAMIRO ALEXANDER-DUCHESNE
Have you heard of Mindy Kaling? Of course you have. She’s a writer, director, and actor whose latest production is The Mindy Project. The sixth and final season of her show is due to air in September of this year. But, this article is not about Mindy, nor her next move now that the final season of her show is about to air. This article is about her brother Vijay Jojo Chokal-Ingam and the overall fight for and against Affirmative Action.
Chokal-Ingam spoke to a group of interns on Wednesday, 8/2/17. I was invited to attend, but was unable to make it. I was able to speak to some of the attendees, however. Their overview of Chokal-Ingam’s topic is what prompted the creation of this article.
Vijay Jojo Chokal-Ingam is a career coach, resume writer, and admissions consultant. In addition to the various titles Chokal-Ingam holds, he is also the author of Almost Black. In this book, Chokal-Ingam talks about his experience impersonating a Black man in order to get accepted into medical school. As an Affirmative Action Hacktivist, Chokal-Ingam impersonated a Black man so that he can expose what he believes is a corrupt system.
For those of you who do not know what Affirmative Action is, here is a brief history. Affirmative Action is a program that enforces federal statutes aimed at remedying discrimination when hiring members of so-called ‘minority’ groups. These Affirmative Action programs are designed to prevent future discrimination based on race, color, creed, etc.
Although Affirmative Action was first proposed during Reconstruction, which followed the abolition of American Slavery, it was not enforced until President John F. Kennedy lobbied in favor of it during his presidency. Since Kennedy’s and Johnson’s presidencies, Affirmative Action programs have been implemented into the workforce and in academia.
You may have previously heard the common explanation of Affirmative Action. It is as follows; imagine that each company and/or school has 100 seats available for new admits/employees. Out of the thousands of applications that companies and schools receive, only 100 employees/students will be hired/accepted.
Out of those 100 seats, 16 of those seats must be reserved for members of the so-called ‘minority’ groups. These ‘minority’ groups consist of Black, Indigenous, and Latino peoples, as well as women. Affirmative Action ensures that at least 16 members of the aforementioned ‘minority’ groups will be hired/accepted.
Even though Affirmative Action encourages diversity within the workforce and education, many people, like Chokal-Ingam, do not support this effort.Chokal-Ingam and other hacktivists/opposers have made concerted efforts to dismantle Affirmative Action programs for decades now. Ever since these programs, which were created to help diversify and improve America, were put into place, there has been a great deal of resistance.
Even president Trump has chimed in, and not surprisingly, he is against Affirmative Action as well. But, why are people so resistant? Diversity can only make this world a better place, right? So, who are these hacktivists/opposers?
President Obama quoted the fiction character Atticus Finch’s advice about understanding people by listening to their point of view. President Obama said in his farewell speech, “…for Blacks and other ‘minority’ groups, that means tying our own, very real struggles for justice, to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face…[including] the middle aged white guy who, from the outside may seem like he has advantages, but has seen his world up-ended by economic, cultural, and technological change.”
These hacktivists/opposers include anyone who is not considered a ‘minority’, primarily white and Asian. (Disclaimer, this is not to say that all members of the aforementioned racial and social groups are Affirmative Action hacktivists/opposers. It simply means that the majority of hacktivists/opposers are members of the aforementioned racial and social groups.)
What Chokal-Ingam aimed to expose in his impersonation of a Black man, was that Affirmative Action is a practice of reverse racism. Chokal-Ingam has a GPA that does not meet the standards of the medical school that he applied to, which is why he lied about his race. Once he took on the identity of a Black man, he was accepted into the program.
From Chokal-Ingam’s viewpoint, his Black Like Me-type stunt validated the argument that Affirmative Action denies so-called ‘majority’ applicants acceptance into certain programs, or employment with certain companies. This is a loaded claim, especially given the fact that out of 100 seats only 16 are allotted to applicants of color. Most of the remaining 84 seats are filled by members of ‘majority’ groups.
There seems to be a common misperception about Affirmative Action. Opposers argue that unqualified ‘minority’ applicants are accepted or hired, while qualified ‘majority’ applicants are left rejected. Although Chokal-Ingam may have had a GPA that did not meet the medical program’s minimum requirement, there had be another aspect of his application that deemed him qualified.
Yes, GPA plays a huge factor in the decision making process in regards to admissions. However, many post undergraduate programs take note of extracurricular activities like internships and employment in the desired field of study.
Chokal-Ingam does not have experience working or interning in the justice system, though. Very true, but there are other aspects of an application that programs consider, for example, a well written statement of purpose. Being a resume writer and admissions consultant, surely Chokal-Ingam knows how to write a good statement of purpose.
It’s safe to assume that despite Affirmative Action, most institutions will not accept/hire just any applicant because of their race. There has to be something about an applicant that convinces the admissions committee that they are a good match for the program. It’s probably also safe to assume that Chokal-Ingam’s statement of purpose was well written. This is not to say that lying about being Black did not help him gain acceptance, but that is doubtfully the sole reason he was admitted.
Instead of arguing that Affirmative Action is a program founded on reverse racism that puts white and Asian applicants in particular at a disadvantage, try to understand where so-called ‘minorities’ are coming from.
We understand that the old ways of the government which has favored the majority for centuries is slowly, but surely changing. You may not be ready for it, you may not like it, but it is changing. If Affirmative Action is a form of reparations, then we deserve it. It’s the least America can do after its treatment of ‘minority’ groups.
And please, stop crying reverse racism. Racism is a system of oppression that benefits the members of a race, in which they believe is superior to all other races. The so-called ‘minorities’ who benefit from Affirmative Action do not demand the implementation of diversity programs due to a superiority complex. We demand diversification so that we may be seen and treated as equals.
Ramiro Alexander-Duchesne is a CSUITEMUSIC Blogger
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