In 1992 Star Parker ran a small publishing business in Los Angeles. Her business was destroyed by riots after four police officers were exonerated of charges after Rodney King’s beating. Parker, the president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and a columnist for The Daily Signal, joins the podcast today to talk about why she believes America isn’t racist. 

We also cover these stories:

  • President Donald Trump says he will boot out Antifa’s takeover of areas of Seattle following the unrest and riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death. 
  • U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has apologized for accompanying Trump on his walk from the White House to St. John’s Church on June 1.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to rename military entities with confederate names. 

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Rachel del Guidice: We are joined today on The Daily Signal Podcast by Star Parker. She’s the president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, and she’s also a columnist for The Daily Signal. Star, thank you so much for being on The Daily Signal Podcast.

Star Parker: You’re welcome. Thank you for inviting me.

Del Guidice: It’s great to have you on. Really a pleasure.

Well, in a recent column, you had written about how in 1992 you operated a small publishing business in Los Angeles, which was destroyed as a result of the riots that ensued after four police officers were acquitted of charges of excessive violence in the beating of Rodney King. So can you tell us how that had an impact on your life?

Parker: It changed my life because it propelled me into speaking out on behalf of culture, on behalf of poverty, on behalf of race relations issues that surround those three buckets.

Because up until that point, I was like most Americans, and in particular African Americans that are God-fearing, church-going, that basically stayed silent when it came to issues that hit the front page.

But because of my background, I just felt compelled to speak out after the ’92 Los Angeles riots, which is the turning point to propel me into a national spotlight.

See, I hadn’t believed all the lies that I was hearing at that time during the riots, the lies of those left, I call them.

When I was younger and coming of age, similar to what we’re seeing happen in the lives of the youth that are now terrorized in our streets, I believed the lies that America was stacked against me, that it was inherently racist. I believed the lie that my problems were someone else’s fault. I believed the lie that I just didn’t have any type of future in America.

As a result, I got lost, very lost in all types of activities, similar to what we saw over the last couple of weeks. Criminal activity, drug activity, sexual activity. I was in and out of abortion clinic after clinic. And it wasn’t until a Christian conversion that I changed my life.

I was on welfare when someone finally said, “You know, you don’t have to think about yourself in terms that others have dictated. You don’t have to think about yourself in terms of … .”

Even though on race matters and what we’re hearing today, that America is racist, they didn’t believe all of that. They told me that Christ didn’t believe all of that.

And I hadn’t done so many things and now I’m three and a half years on welfare watching my life just spiral into a little dark hole.

I’m thankful that I didn’t get caught for armed robbery and I didn’t end up the rest of my life in jail, so I actually listened to them. I went to their church and I heard the gospel. I heard that I’m a unique individual made in Christ and that God loved me, and he forgave me, and he wasn’t mad at me, and he had set a course for me.

As a result of that, I was able to change my life. I got a degree in marketing and international business. I started one and that’s when the Los Angeles riots hit.

At that point, I was just a comfortable Christian, but I said, “You know what? This is not fair, this narrative that so many are caught up in today, when I heard the same story 20 years ago. And as a result of me not listening any longer, look at my life today.”

So I just started speaking out and over time, after consulting on federal welfare reform in the ’90s, I started the organization that I run here in Washington, D.C., today.

Del Guidice: Thank you so much for sharing that, Star. Given what you experienced in 1992, what has your perspective been on the killing of George Floyd, as well as all the protests and riots we have seen since then?

Parker: Well, I think that everyone is appalled. I mean, this is the first time that many of us have experienced watching, in live time, in real time, someone’s life being taken from them.

I think that that panic and emotion within all of us would propel some to say, “I’ve got to get out the streets, I’ve got to vent, I’ve got to go and protest. I’ve got to just do something.”

But the Scripture is clear that a soft answer just keeps that wrath away. And what we need to do sometimes is just stop, pause, and allow for ourselves to get into that moment and say, “What is it that I should be really thinking about for myself?”

The grief that each and every one of us uniquely experienced in watching that killing in real time was our own grief.

Like anytime you have grief, you have to work it through yourself, similar to if someone loses a child. Well, the child that was lost, the parents’ grief is very different from the grandparents’ grief, which is very different from the siblings’ grief.

I think as a nation, we should be pretty impressed with ourselves to say that this was not about race. If it were about race, we would not have even thought about it, that it wouldn’t have impacted us so deeply.

What we saw on the streets was more about power because people were in a moment. They felt that they had to have any emotional event.

But we as a nation, we’re in COVID-19. We were supposed to be shut down. So in my personal humble opinion, I felt that where we should have gone was to our faith instead of to the streets, to then create so much more damage against our fellow man.

Del Guidice: I wanted to ask too, how has racism or race relations, given everything you’ve seen from the time you were growing up to being a young adult to now, today, how would you say it’s evolved? And what is your perspective on it? Maybe when you were a younger person to now?

Parker: My perspective is that we lost ourselves in the civil rights era. After the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, we, as a people, should have done what Dr. [Martin Luther King Jr.] asks us to do in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

And that was to go back into the communities and build, because once the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, we should have no longer, as a nation, thought about race as a special interest, thought about race as a collective.

Individually, of course, we’re uniquely made. And there’s some beauty in all of us and ethnicity has that attribute itself. But when you think about what happened after King, after the riots of the ’60s, we politicized race. The next thing you know, our nation was moving into only discovering race.

The perception of racism became a business because we started having affirmative action programs and racial preference programs.

You fast-forward that to today, there are very few discussions that can take place without emphasizing race. So I think it has hurt us as a nation to keep this heavy emphasis on special interests and ethnicity.

Del Guidice: We recently held a virtual conference that gathered around 200 pastors to encourage the broadest possible intervention on behalf of national peace and reconciliation. I wanted to ask you, what were your takeaways from that event?

Parker: The humility of the pastors on the phone to say, “We know that something is inherently wrong in our culture today, that this is not just race,” or, “We’re being told by the mainstream media and/or the activists in the activist organizations. This is the spiritual problem that’s rooted in a moral dilemma, and we need to be mindful of that.” And so much prayer went forward, but also decisions to take action.

So as the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, Urban CURE, we are developing out a three-prong program right now with those pastors. Projects that we believe will be able to help turn the tide away from what we’re hearing now, especially from the left, that they’re going to go overboard with this moment in time. They don’t let a crisis go to waste. And yet this is a crisis. This was appalling to watch live-time killing.

But we also know as a people that we are unique and we need to keep our minds set on that. We do not need some of what they are saying in the Congress now, that they are going to focus a lot more attention on ethnicity and race.

I mean, it’s embarrassing what the governor of Kentucky said, that now he’s just going to, what, line up all the blacks and give them free health care? Is this a special line we all have to get in? I mean, let’s not go [down] that path.

I think that the insistence that this is systemic racism should be questioned. We’re talking about institutions that have a perception of racism business that has been governing for the last 50 years. But I think that what we should learn from this moment in time is to get rid of those programs, not increase their dimensions and their size.

Del Guidice: We’ll start in your email announcing this teleconference that you had with the pastors. You had said, “I don’t agree that our nation is racist. That mantra is the poison that entrenches resentment and division among us. The daily hunt for racism from top to bottom of our nation’s institutions have institutionalized the deep perception of racism in the post-civil rights era.”

I know you’ve hit on this a little bit, but can you dive into this perspective a little bit more, on your thoughts here and how to move forward?

Parker: Yeah, let’s think about what we’re being asked to do now as a society because of this incident that we all will agree should not have happened. We don’t know all of the details. We will find out all of the details and justice will be served.

This is not the 1950s, where you wonder if justice is going to be served. Justice will be served in this particular instance because the apparatus of the state that this incident occurred in, but as well as the American people are a different people now.

So let’s think about where we’re being taken now, in this time. We’re having now the educational apparatus, our institutional education, say, “Let’s do books. Let’s have each white person go out and just try to find a black friend.” This is offensive, that we’re going to [say], “Now, let’s think of ways that we can approach that black person about their life.”

I really prefer that my grandchildren are thought of as unique individuals without someone seeking them out because of their race, to ask them questions that might be embarrassing, that might have nothing to do with a separated and different culture.

The law is clear. Our Constitution is clear. And we, as a people, need to get to the place to where we know we’re not colorblind, but where we’re equal. And that, I think, has already occurred.

When the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, I think that it offered us an opportunity, as American people, to be one. E pluribus unum.

But what we know now is there are people who have vested interest in overturning America. They don’t believe that America is inherently good. They don’t believe what [Alexis] de Tocqueville said about America. They think America is inherently evil and this founding country that had slaves has to pay forever.

So in that, they’re going to insist to rewrite America. We’re hearing it, the rhetoric, that we should no longer have police forces. Leave us alone. I don’t know what else to say, but … Listen, leave us alone. And at least leave race out of every question.

Let’s just move on as individual, unique people and let friendships bond and let work relationship … It’s fascinating. In work relationships, people, little 2-year-olds, they work with anyone, of any ethnicity if they’re working on trying to get a truck to run up a hill, or they’re playing in a playground. If you want to have racial insensitivities, they’re learned.

And there’s nothing that a society can do to a parent that passes on those types of scourges. You can’t legislate morality. We can govern behavior through law, but you can’t legislate morality.

We’re not going to purge our country of every racist cop. It’s just not human nature to be able to say, “I can be good all of the time, and I can assure that no one will ever be a racist.”

So I think that the goal for America should be to undo all of the perception of racism business, including all the affirmative action and racial preference programs. And then I think that we should just move on individually.

Del Guidice: You also recently met with Vice President Mike Pence and other African American leaders to discuss how the country can move forward following George Floyd’s death. Is there anything from that meeting that you can share about insights that were discussed that you’re excited about?

Parker: I think that Vice President Pence made it clear that the White House is alerted to ensure that not only justice is served for the family of Mr. Floyd, but also that justice is served for those that had their property violated and either the loss of life during the domestic terrorism that occurred over the last week, No. 1.

No. 2, the Vice President assured us that we’re going to look now at some of the questions that stem from the disparities in our society and when it comes to our poor.

Because this White House has already been moving toward equalizing the playing field, if you will, by focusing attention on the economy, making sure that we reduce regulation and taxes so that the weakest link, the weakest communities, we’ll have flourishing.

And there was some special attention placed there as well because in the tax bill, a couple of senators put in a unique opportunity zone initiative that allowed for capital to flow into these hard-hit ZIP codes, so that business will come in and then jobs will be created, and those communities will be turned around.

Interestingly, it worked, and it worked very, very successfully. Black unemployment rates were lower than ever in our history. Family life was starting to develop because when people have money in their pockets, they can make decisions for their future. So we were already seeing great help coming from the leadership of the Trump administration.

Unfortunately, … COVID, it was an interruption. And now with the riots, it’s made it a little bit more difficult and it will be a little bit more difficult for those communities to bounce back. But I’m confident that they will bounce back on. Once someone has had a job, they will get another one

Del Guidice: Star, would you have any advice for white Americans who are concerned about Mr. Floyd’s death and are wondering if there’s anything they can do to improve race relationships in America, or something that they can do practically to help their communities?

Parker: I think to improve race relations in America, one thing that whites might want to consider is helping those that are not getting the education that they need in our most distressed ZIP codes.

And the way they can help is by fighting for money to follow children to the schools parents want. We need parental choice. We need educational options. African American poor families are begging to get out of these government-funded, union-controlled schools. They’re not serving the needs of their children.

So that’s one place that a society can help.

But when you talk about what can white people do to blacks, the last thing we need to do is start looking only at ethnicity and saying, “Because you’re black, I’m going to come over to you and I’m going to try to make a relationship.”

Most Americans are cordial to their neighbors. They work cross aisles, racially and ethically, on projects at work and other places. So we need to not buy into the narrative that we’re hearing from on high now, in the … Congress and every kind of public place, that America is systemically racist. This is not true.

So what we have to do is not have whites to do that. If they want to help the Floyd family, help them. We saw that the family is in need. They weren’t expecting a death, and often when you’re not expecting the death of a loved one, you might have to pass the hat.

So if someone really feels in themselves that they need to do something, then do something, but this is not corporate action. The grief is your own. The grief is our own.

This is not something that we do collectively, because what we’re doing collectively doesn’t work. We see that in government programs. This doesn’t work, when we think that we can do a one-size-fits-all to build race relationships. No. If you have friends of other ethnicities, then build a friendship, but let’s not make it a science. Friendships and relationships are art, and I think that we should embrace that.

Del Guidice: Star, what a wonderful note to end on. Thank you so much for joining The Daily Signal Podcast. We appreciate having you.

Parker: Well, I appreciate being with you. Thank you.