James and Roger were 13 years old.
This takes place while I was a counsellor at a Catholic vacation center in Quebec.
In the children's group I had to supervise Roger and James.
They were like the group's mascots. The two, despite their age were very polite and respectful.
There was a time when I was in charge of organizing the activity: what makes you different?
I was going to have to train these young teens to give a real answer.
Quickly, Roger and James' turns arrive.
Oh yes, by the way James was born in the United States and speaks stammering French and is black skinned while Roger is a young Quebecer born in St Jérôme and speaks French with a Quebec accent. He doesn't speak a word of English. So very interested and very respectful, I ask them again: what are the differences between you two?
By the way, the other young people gathered together, very curious to know the response of the two mascots.
Before my question, silence gives way, James breaks it by saying I'm from Westmount and nobody speaks French. He winks, smiling at his accomplice, who replies: “in St. Jérôme, not many people speak English. But with my mate James it's different”, said Roger hugging him proudly.
“In truth, James doesn't like Maple Syrup spread that much in the morning”, he said suspiciously, but laughing.
So, James responds with a burst of laughter, “yes, I don't like bread and maple syrup but a bit of Camembert with my coffee”.
They both turn to me, resting their arms on their resting legs: “sorry, prof. the two of us don't have any other differences”.
So, it's my turn to stay speechless. We must, like Pierre Perret, conclude that this tall black teenager and his white accomplice would have the color of love against which nothing can be done. PS: after this little conclusion, my arrogance as a teacher in front of these eight charming 13-year-old kids, only climbs. My dear readers, I tell myself that I would find there the color of love.
Already, my dear colleague, Marie-France is whispering in Roger's ear in a firm but friendly voice: “you haven't even mentioned your different colors. James is a man of color.”
“Come on, Prof Marie France, I'm the colored teenager. Take a good look at me: when I'm cold, I blush before I turn blue. And then when I get too much sun my whole body reddens and gives me burns that make me blacken and then when I have eaten too much, I go livid before I have a fever and throw up,“ said Roger.
“So Prof, with all due respect, I think you're wrong”, said Roger, hugging his accomplice tightly and inviting their comrades to join them and make a nice circle. Is this circle really tinged with love?
Blacks, white beaks, Asians and mestizos. Let's just hope, as they grow older, these little teens grow up to be grown-ups, inspiring, governing and teaching us.