Himanshu Suri of the infamous Das Racist is stepping out from behind the microphone, kind of. He’s teaming up with his childhood friend Ali Najmi (of Desis Vote) and joining the board of Queens based SEVA-NY to bring awareness to a very heated issue, redistricting in immigrant heavy Queens because the plans that are being drawn up will make you want to yell, “Das RACIST!”
Prominent Queens-bred rapper Himanshu Suri is adding his voice to the contentious redistricting debate, joining the board of directors of SEVA, a Richmond Hill-based immigrant rights group.
Suri’s childhood friend, Ali Najmi works for SEVA and introduced him to Gurpal Singh, one of the founders of the group and also a music producer. Within two hours of meeting one another, Singh and Suri were tinkering with tracks and discussing local politics. SEVA has an “army” of volunteers, Singh said, but Suri adds some much needed star power to the organization. [link]
Himanshu is at a SEVA community meeting performing right now (Monday night). It just so happens that his solo album titled after his very popular tumblr site Nehru Jackets also just dropped online on SEVA‘s website (thx for the tip, Pardon My Hindi!). For your #MusicMonday pleasure, you can find the link to the download here.
Redistricting is a huge issue these days, particularly since the Census 2010 results are now out, we now know where communities are clustering, particularly those of common interests, race and ethnicity. By splitting up communities of color in the drawing up of new borders around precincts, you are essentially dividing the power the community holds. In SEVA‘s case, they are fighting to keep together the political voice of the immigrant largely South Asian community in Queens.
“Redistricting in New York is such an uphill battle for communities that are basically on the outside of the political establishment, so we needed something to raise awareness about the issue and that something is his celebrity status,” Mr. Najmi said of Mr. Suri. “The idea that we could release a mixtape that was attached to a redistricting campaign was just perfect to me.” Currently, the neighborhoods of Richmond Hill, Bellerose and Floral Park are all subdivided into multiple legislative districts. SEVA wants to see each neighborhood get its own, unified district when the new lines are drawn. [politickearney]
I commend Himanshu for lending his star power for a very important issue and for joining the leadership of an organization that serves the community he came from. I’m looking forward to seeing what other collaborations this potentially creates!