Published Apr 28, 2020Himanshu Suri — best known as Das Racist and Swet Shop Boys rapper Heems — has lost his father to COVID-19, and the artist is now venting some serious frustration over the pandemic response in New York. Specifically, he's called out extreme shortfalls in the U.S. medical supply chain.
The artist's father Gireesh Kumar Suri left his native India for Queens, NY, in 1978, with the immigrant soon calling America home for good. He died in a Long Island nursing home this month at the age of 67 after contracting the deadly virus, Heems explained, leaving both the artist and his family in a state of disbelief.
Speaking to CNN, Heems said he thought his father had been tested for COVID-19, only to discover that he never was tested due to a shortage of nasal swabs.
"Why do I have to grieve with the notion of a supply chain?" he said, adding the initial paperwork following his father's death identified him as Caucasian. "I want to correct the record of an immigrant American. I don't want that to be left out of the reality of this situation."
And while Heems made it clear that he's very grateful for all the health care workers who cared for his father, he also expressed disbelief over the fact his father was never diagnosed due to a shortage of swabs.
"I don't operate from a place of hate or anger... but they never got swabs?" he told CNN.
Gireesh Suri suffered from diabetes, as well as had a pacemaker. He was hospitalized in mid-March with hypertension, and he was there for less than two weeks before being transferred to the nursing home, Excel at Woodbury for Rehabilitation and Nursing. Suri died there on April 13.
"He was a prime candidate for something like this. But still that doesn't ease my grief," Heems said. "He seemingly went in his sleep peacefully. That is the narrative, at least, that I hope for."
And while his grief for his father is palatable in the piece, Heems explained that he didn't want his father just becoming a number.
"My father was a hardworking man. Stories like his are not often told," said Heems of his dad, who in America did everything from ran a candy shop to drive a cab, to deliver newspapers to eventually doing hospital billing — the job that finally brought his family into the middle class.
"Let's remember the good guys. If humanizing this ordeal keeps more people safe, then I get to provide a legacy for my father."