Tags: Star | Parker | Courageous | Black | Voice

Star Parker, a Courageous Black Voice

Wednesday, 09 May 2001 12:00 AM

She dates the emergence of her political conscience to the 1992 riots in south-central Los Angeles that left a lasting impression on the nation's psyche.

While some commentators called them a legitimate expression of black rage, an understandable outpouring of anger over the racism still endemic to the national culture, Parker and others in the new generation of black leaders have a different take on the riots and the problems of the inner city. They believe conservative political and economic principles are the key to ending the cycle of poverty in the inner city.

Parker will tell you that the riots ruined her small urban Christian magazine - NFTA - because the rioters burned out most of her advertisers. With no one to buy ad space, she was forced to close the small business she had founded.

Born in New Jersey, Parker is a divorced mother of two girls by two different men. She is not proud of her early life.

By age 14, she had engaged in crimes including breaking and entering. At 17, a male companion robbed a liquor store, making her an accomplice in an armed robbery. Fearing arrest, she and a friend stole her brother's car, fleeing New Jersey for California because she had aspirations "to dance on 'Soul Train.'"

Once in California, she was in and out of the welfare system, seeking odd jobs to "supplement" her income under the table.

By the time she was 22, she had undergone four abortions. Also heavily involved in illegal drugs, a habit she started at 17, she says she used "everything I could get my hands on", but her favorite drug was PCP, also called Angel Dust.

Parker's life started to turn around when a group of men from an inner-city business pestered her to go to church with them.

She met the men, she says, going into their business looking for an off-the-books job to add to her welfare income. The men would not hire her because her way of life was "unacceptable."

Through her attendance at church, Parker says she underwent a religious conversion that has made all the difference in her life. Returning to school, Parker received a bachelor's degree in marketing from Woodbury University and used the training to start her magazine.

She founded CURE in 1995 and took it on as a full-time project when she was fired from her job as a host on Los Angeles radio station KABC after the Disney media conglomerate bought it.

Parker is a stimulating figure. The group of largely white evangelicals and conservatives to whom she is speaking this day is hushed, hanging on her every word as she reminds them that "135 years ago, blacks were slaves; today, we generate $1.5 trillion in economic activity."

The subject of her speech is "Will a conservative message sell in black America?"

"It depends," she says, "on the marketing plan and the messenger," telling conservatives they must first decide what part of black America they are trying to reach: the pop culture community, based on sex, violence and the social welfare safety net; the political community, set up to defend the safety net for the pop culture community; or the black evangelical community, which is trying to hold together the family unit and provide essential social services to the poor.

Parker rejects a political message because "blacks have been convinced that every problem is political in origin and has a government-oriented solution. A political message to black America must be by nature," she says, "a message of more government" with additional dollars attached, rendering that kind of message antithetical to conservative first principles.

"The messengers must be conservatives, speaking from life and faith, not politics," she urges the crowd, calling them to action and generating applause when she tells them: "You cannot win the war on poverty without getting your hands dirty. The grant-and-cash approach make the givers feel good, but keeps their hands clean.

"Please do not addict more of black America to government dollars by handing welfare out to the black churches," she says, criticizing the White House initiative to allow religious groups to compete for federal social service grants.

Parker sees herself as a modern Harriett Tubman, building an "underground railroad" to help blacks break free of poverty, ignorance and despair in the inner city by removing the barriers, placed mostly by the government, that impede black progress.

The message she wants to take to America is that there are five steps out of poverty: self-government, education and training, hard work, saving, and marriage before children. The government, in her view, is an impediment to black America's ability to do these things in a way that will change their lives, instead keeping them enslaved to a welfare state bureaucracy with little more real freedom than on the plantation.

Everyone will be better off, according to Parker, when the idea of accountability reclaims its rightful place among human standards for living.

"The welfare state allows people to escape the consequences of their actions. Negative behaviors no longer have consequences," she says, "they have safety nets." Until that changes, no one, in her view, should be surprised that not much has been or will be different in inner-city America.

Parker is well along the road to becoming what she wants to be - "an alternative voice, a voice of reason, in the black community, serving as a counterweight to the NAACP and other overseers in the black community." And, if the reaction to her speech is any indication, the audience for her message is growing rapidly.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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She dates the emergence of her political conscience to the 1992 riots in south-central Los Angeles that left a lasting impression on the nation's psyche. While some commentators called them a legitimate expression of black rage, an understandable outpouring of anger over...
Wednesday, 09 May 2001 12:00 AM
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