Tashi Kiya: Revolutionary theoretician, activist

Tashi Kiya protests Michigan welfare cuts, Oct. 2011.WW photo: Kris Hamel

Tashi Kiya protests Michigan welfare cuts, Oct. 2011.
WW photo: Kris Hamel

Detroit — Tashi Kiya, 74, an anti-imperialist, ­anti-racist people’s fighter, made his transition on Feb. 13 after a battle with cancer. He leaves to cherish his memory five children, 14 grandchildren and two great grandchildren, as well as many activists and friends in Detroit and beyond.

Tashi joined Workers World Party late in life, when the Detroit branch initiated a fight against foreclosures, evictions and utility shutoffs in 2007-08. He was first introduced to the party, however, in the 1970s, when he was active in a prison political study group, named after the George Jackson Brigade. In addition to the study of Marxist and revolutionary literary works, the group also read Workers World newspaper.

A strong proponent of combining revolutionary theory and action, Tashi pushed the Detroit WWP branch to hold more frequent classes on Marxism. He felt, correctly, that the party’s mass organizing was further enhanced by the study of revolutionary theory. These classes are now a regular part of the activities of the branch, taking place two to three times a month. Tashi understood the importance of reaching youth and was thoroughly delighted as they started to participate and even lead classes. He spoke highly of the youth who have been drawn to WWP in recent years.

Getting out WW newspaper

Tashi also considered the distribution of Workers World newspaper a special responsibility of all party members in spreading revolutionary socialist ideology and recruiting new cadre. Distributing WW newspaper offered opportunities to be among the masses in a variety of situations and was a major focus of Tashi’s weekly activities. He circulated this socialist newspaper throughout Detroit on buses, at protest events, in coffee shops, markets and other locations.

Tashi also recognized the importance of culture, especially music, in the revolutionary struggle. He was a lover of all African-based music, including jazz and rhythm and blues, and would give away CDs of well-known and obscure musical tracks. He had a deep knowledge of jazz, and could provide a political rap on jazz and its importance to anyone who would listen.

Tashi was also active in other groups, including Call ‘Em Out, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs. He was a regular volunteer with NOAH, a homeless advocacy group, and helped serve weekly meals to homeless people. Tashi identified himself as a Black Muslim and former member of the Nation of Islam.

Tashi made significant sacrifices throughout his life to further the struggle against racism and imperialism and to stand with the most oppressed and exploited — the homeless, the unemployed and single mothers struggling to raise their families in this rotten capitalist system. He was a fierce opponent of racism and white supremacy.

A revolutionary people’s intellectual, Tashi had a large library. Hundreds of political books which he donated to the Detroit WWP branch will be used to educate and train the next generation of revolutionaries who will defeat racism, imperialism and capitalism. As Tashi envisioned, they will transform society into a socialist world for the good of all the workers and oppressed.

Tashi Kiya, Presente!