Conservative pundit Star Parker chronicled her own life story in the 1997 book Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats: From Welfare Cheat to Conservative Messenger. In her early twenties, she led a life of drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and welfare fraud. After a religious conversion, she entered the workforce, became an entrepreneur and then a radio talk-show host. As an author and media commentator, Parker's most passionate argument holds that government-benefits programs designed to help impoverished Americans are a form of subjugation and political control. In her second book, Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do about It, she asserts that the liberal black politicians who support such aid "are involved in the slave trade, as surely as if they had put the chains on the people themselves. We work the ghettos instead of the fields, dutifully putting ‘massa’ back in the Senate or House of Representatives, so they'll keep those compassionate benefits coming."
The third of five children, LarStella Irby Parker was born on Thanksgiving Day of 1956 and named after two aunts, Laura and Stella. She later began calling herself Stella, which means star in Italian, and then settled on Star. Because her father was a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, the family lived on several Air Force bases during her childhood. Both of her parents came from large southern families that were poor but prided themselves on their economic self-sufficiency.
Engaged in Crime and Drug Use
When Parker was about to enter high school, her parents settled in Mount Holly, New Jersey. She later recalled that she ran with a bad crowd and was arrested for shoplifting. During her sixteenth summer, she found a job at a nearby military base, where she was sexually assaulted by an officer. During her final year at Rancocas Valley High School, she and friends committed a number of home burglaries, firebombed a teacher's vehicle, and robbed a liquor store. At age twenty she and a friend moved to Los Angeles, planning to become dancers on the popular television show Soul Train. However, Parker instead watched soap operas all afternoon, smoked marijuana, roller-skated on the promenade at Venice Beach, and went to discotheques at night. During those years, she recounted, she was promiscuous and contracted sexually transmitted diseases. When her boyfriend first offered her a pipe to smoke rock cocaine, she declined only because she was feeling ill from her fourth abortion a few hours earlier.
Parker took occasional community-college classes with the help of student aid. She also became skilled at cheating the Los Angeles County health-care system, which provided coverage to low-income residents. Parker would obtain medical vouchers, sell them to others, and then buy drugs with the proceeds. When she became pregnant for a fifth time, she was stunned to learn that if she kept the baby she could receive $465 a month from the county plus $176 in federal food stamps. She later described this period of her life—a young woman with a baby, few job skills, and no family support structure—as being "marooned." "The system makes you believe you can't do any better," she told Ira J. Hadnot in the Albany Times Union. "You lose your self-worth being constantly told that you can't make it on your own."
Parker's conversion to Christianity began when two brothers who ran their own advertising agency invited her to attend services at their church. They also chastised her for taking government aid. Parker began to realize that she and her daughter might be reliant upon government support for the rest of their lives, so she removed herself from the county aid system, found a job with a restaurant-supply company, and returned to school. In 1984 she launched a magazine for Los Angeles-area Christians that grew into a successful publication known for its singles ads. A year later she married Peter Pentecost Parker, a white pastor of a charismatic Episcopal parish in Orange County. They had a daughter.
Advocated Conservative Reforms
Parker's magazine was decimated in April of 1992 when riots broke out in Los Angeles following the acquittal of white police officers who had been video-taped beating black motorist Rodney King. During the turmoil, many of the small, black-owned businesses that had been her main advertisers were burned down. Angry that "criminals," as she called the rioters, had forced her to lay off her employees, she embarked on a new career as co-host of a radio talk show on a Christian station in Long Beach. That led to an offer from an ABC network affiliate to host her own evening call-in show. Her personal story of welfare dependency, along with her vehement opposition to government-aid programs and affirmative-action policies, usually ignited a firestorm of angry calls. She was eventually fired for insubordination because she refused to stay on safer topics during her show.
In 1995 Parker founded the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education, or CURE, a nonprofit think tank that explored political allegiances of African-American voters. She gained national attention for Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats in 1997, which was published just as the U.S. federal government was replacing the decades-old state-administered welfare program with "workfare," or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). New regulations placed a time limit on aid and forced participants to either find part-time work or participate in a job-training program while receiving benefits. Parker was booked frequently on news programs and talk shows to deliver the viewpoint of someone who had once relied on aid but then refused it and became a successful entrepreneur. She argued strenuously in favor of the welfare-reform efforts.
Conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh wrote an introduction to Pimps, Whores and Welfare Brats, which Parker coauthored with Lorenzo Benet, a writer for People magazine. In its first chapters she recounts her own story, and then in part 2 excoriates liberal ideology. Liberal Democrats who push government aid are the "pimps" of the title—a term generally used for men who profit from their female partners' prostitution—while the "whores" are the African-American community leaders who champion government aid and lend their political support to such candidates. By "welfare brats," Parker refers to a generation of children raised by nonworking parents.
At a Glance …
Born LarStella Irby on November 22, 1956; daughter of James (an Air Force officer) and Essie Doris (a beautician) Irby; married Peter Pentecost Parker (a minister), 1985; children: Angel, Rachel. Politics: Republican. Religion: Christian. Education: Woodbury University, BS, marketing.
Career: Receptionist for a restaurant-supply company, 1983?; Not Forsaking the Assembling, a Los Angeles-area Christian magazine, founder and publisher, 1984-92; radio talk-show host in Long Beach, San Francisco, and Los Angeles; Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), founder, 1995, and president, 1995—; Scripps Howard News Service, syndicated columnist; Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, college lecture program.
Addresses: Office—Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Ste. 700, Washington, DC 20004.
Parker also started writing a column syndicated by the Scripps Howard News Service. She presented herself as at war with the African-American political establishment, which generally supports the Democratic Party. Her detractors pointed out that she was an excellent example of how the original welfare program was supposed to work—to provide temporary aid until people could find steady work and support their families on their own—and that not everyone cheated the system, as she admitted doing. Parker recognized that hers was a lone voice. As she wrote in Uncle Sam's Plantation. "I know the social problems afflicting black America are great. I know that confronting black anger is exhausting. But I also know the dreams of my ancestors did not include enslavement on the government's plantation of poverty."
(With Lorenzo Benet) Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats: From Welfare Cheat to Conservative Messenger,, Atria, 1997; also published as Pimps, Whores and Welfare Brats: The Stunning Conservative Transformation of a Former Welfare Queen, Pocket Books, 1997.
Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do about It, WND Books, 2003.
White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay, Nelson Current, 2006.
Parker, Star, Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do about It, WND Books, 2003.
Albany Times Union, April 21, 1997, p. C3.
New York Times, April 15, 2005.
More From encyclopedia.com
Tavis Smiley , Smiley, Tavis 1964– Journalist, author In a preview to its 1994 list of 50 future American leaders, Time magazine observed, “As surely as there are f… Cecil Murray , Cecil Murray 1929— Cleric Chip Murray’s Mentor An Award for Valor A Church with a Long History 1991—The Year the Storm Broke The Los Angeles Riot The… Farai Chideya , Farai Chideya 1969– Journalist, author, and political commentator Literary Upbringing “Dogged Multiculturalist” at Harvard Dazzled at Newsweek Media… Thomas Iver Bradley , Tom Bradley The first African American mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley (born 1917) won election five times, serving a record 20 years in a city whe… Thomas Bradley , Bradley, Thomas 1917– In the nearly two decades since he was elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles, Thomas Bradley’s name has been virtually s… Richard J Riordan , Richard Joseph Riordan Richard Joseph Riordan (born 1930), a multimillionaire businessman and civic leader seeking public office for the first time,…
About this article
Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article
You Might Also Like