I learned so much from a man I knew so little about, that man’s name was Gene R. Nichol. I went not knowing what to expect, I came out feeling empowered knowing that there’s someone out there who cares. For 2 hours it felt as if I was constantly being punched in the back by Mike Tyson, and kicked by Bruce Lee.
As of 2017, I’ve never gone without food, hearing a story of a boy who nonchalantly says that it’s not his turn to eat made my stomach turn. My parents are far from wealthy, and sometimes there isn’t enough money for everything, but at the end of the day I know I can come home and even if there isn’t chicken, or beef, I know that there will at least be beans, or rice at home. Reflecting on my 17 years of life on planet Earth, I’ve come to realize that I may not be wealthy, and I can’t afford a lot of things, but there are people out there struggling to survive day to day. I go to school because I want to learn, and the free lunch is a bonus but there are people out there that can’t afford to pay for their kids’ food everyday because they aren’t being paid a fair wage but at the same time they don’t qualify for what the government sees as “poor enough”. Some kids wake up get on their bus, and the only thing on their mind is they can’t wait to get some food into their stomach, and they can’t wait to be somewhere where it’s warm, and this should not be the case. Kids should wake up and be happy that they are going to school to learn not that they are about to get their one meal of the day. Something has to change in order for this to happen.
One step is to raise the minimum wage in NC. The NC General Assembly not only refuses to hear bills that raise the minimum wage, they put restrictions on municipalities to prevent them from locally raising the minimum wage.
Alfonso Cristobal is a High School student at Johnson County Community College in Smithfield. He volunteered 15 hours with NC NOW and set up a presentation with NC NOW President Gailya Paliga for his school.
Professor Gene R. Nichol discussed income inequality at the March 24, 2017 meeting of the League of Women Voters of Wake County at the N. C. State University Club in Raleigh.
Nichol is the Boyd Tinsley distinguished professor of law at UNC-Chapel Hill and director of the North Carolina Poverty Research Fund.