- Communist writer and radio talk show host
Born in 1954, Michael Slate is a revolutionary communist who is the host/producer of The Michael Slate Show, a weekly interview-based program which has aired on KPFK-FM radio in Los Angeles since 2002. The show can be heard live on Friday mornings and is subsequently rebroadcast by more than a dozen other radio stations across the United States. Slate is also affiliated with C. Clark Kissinger’s Revolutionary Community Party (RCP), and he serves as a correspondent for the RCP publication Revolution, formerly known as Revolutionary Worker.
In the 1980s Slate traveled to South Africa to report on the anti-apartheid uprisings of that era.
In 1992 Slate characterized the deadly Los Angeles Riots as “a rebellion” in which many “righteously angry” black people were trying to express their pent-up rage against a criminal-justice system that was “dripping with racism.” When President George H.W. Bush dispatched the National Guard and other federal troops to try to restore order in the city, Slate condemned that action as a “military assault” that ultimately subjected “the oppressed people of L.A.”to “the largest mass arrest in U.S. history.” Similarly, when authorities imposed a night-time curfew on Los Angeles residents, Slate charged that it “was very selectively and viciously enforced against mainly Black and Latino people, especially immigrants, and against the homeless throughout the city.” “One final tactic that the ruling class employed against the Rebellion,” Slate added, “reminded me so much of the tactics the apartheid regime uses against the Azanian people in the rebellious townships of South Africa.” Specifically:
“The people were subjected to ‘collective punishment’ – whole communities were made to suffer to ‘teach a lesson’ to the rebels and to create public opinion against the Rebellion…. [T]he local rulers basically set up a blockade or an embargo against the oppressed nationality communities. The electricity in many neighborhoods was allowed to remain turned off for days. All bus service into and out of South Central was suspended. Local refineries cut off all gas supplies to these neighborhoods. Hospitals in these neighborhoods were allowed to run low on medical supplies. Mail delivery was cut off and trash collection was stopped. This was all an effort to demoralize the oppressed people in Los Angeles and starve them into submission.”
In 1994 Slate covered the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico. Eleven years later, he traveled to Sri Lanka to report on the aftermath of the deadly tsunami that had recently struck South Asia. In 2005 as well, Slate covered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where he claimed that the George W. Bush administration had been slow to respond to the tragedy because its victims were disproportionately black. In a 2010 retrospective on Katrina and its ramifications, Slate lamented that “a terrifying natural disaster [had] twisted into a monstrous crime with genocidal implications.” In yet another retrospective that aired in 2015, Slate claimed that during Katrina, “the military, the police, and racist vigilantes” had used “armed repression” to forcibly prevent any type of outside assistance from getting to the “abandoned people” of the region. “It was a colossal natural disaster that turned into a crime against humanity and one that laid bare the deep oppression — and yes, hatred — that this system has for Black people,” he added.
Since 1995, Slate has written numerous articles on film, music, theater, and visual arts. In 2000 he wrote the booklet on the so-called criminalization of the hip-hop generation that accompanied Unbound Project, a hip-hop compilation CD inspired by Mumia Abu Jamal. From 1999 to 2000, Slate worked as Music Supervisor for the 13-part PBS Television series Senior Year, and he was also an Associate Producer and Music Supervisor for the documentary Sir! No Sir!, the story of GI resistance during the Vietnam War.
A longtime critic of Israel, Slate in June 2018 lauded a sudden wave of violent riots by Gaza-based Palestinians as “a new upsurge of resistance … against the Israeli settler regime and its U.S. backer.” “Thousands and thousands of people in Gaza have stood up,” he wrote, “proclaiming their dignity and demanding their rights as human beings, refusing to live in the open-air prison they’ve been forced into, and continuing in the face of Israeli mass murder. They have protested the theft of their land by the Zionists in the Great March of Return. They have set sail in boats to break the decade-long siege of Gaza. A fierce new generation has come on the scene, lighting up the world by their heroic example.”
Further Reading: “About Michael Slate” (TheMichaelSlateShow.com); “Beneath the Surface with Michael Slate” (Revcom.us); “Shockwaves: Report from the Los Angeles Rebellion” (by Michael Slate, 1992); “The Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina: What Began as a Natural Disaster Was Turned into A Crime Against Humanity” (by Michael Slate, 8-25-2010); “Hurricane Katrina Ten Years Later” (by Michael Slate, August 2015); “Speaking Truth To Israel’s And The Trump Regime’s Crimes Against Humanity” (The Michael Slate Show, June 2018).
- “The Great March of Return” (Jewish Virtual Library, March – July 2018)