I was dancing at a club in Barcelona, Spain, when a techno version of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I Have A Dream” speech came on.
It took me a minute to recognize the speech through the drumbeats, since I haven’t heard “I have a Dream” outside of a classroom or that Kenny G New Year’s Eve “millennium mix” song.
But when I realized what exactly I was shaking my booty to, I stopped dancing immediately.
“ONE DAY MY BROTHA---BROTHA---BROTHA---BROTHAS-- AND SISTAS--” Dr. King's voice played on repeat, and then it faded to house techno music.
I stared at the DJ booth in shock.
The rest of the song had eerie, morphed excerpts of his speech echoed in and out of the music.
(Peace, justice...and a dance track!)
“I don’t know, Megan, I don’t feel right about dancing to this,” I said to my friend, a fellow American stuyding abroad.
I felt like the song made the speech a joke.
A high pitched, rambling “FUH-FUH-FUH-FUH-FUH-FUH-FREEEEE. STILL NOT FREE."
“This is offensive,” I said, and went to the bar to get another vodka and orange Fanta soda.
Megan didn’t think it was offensive. Neither did everyone else at the club who were dancing like crazy for the song. (They probably had no idea what it was, since it was in English.)
“At least they’re getting the word out,” Megan said. “At least people are listening to the message.”
“They’re not listening!” I told her. “They’re shaking their asses to the word Negro!! It's wrong.”
I got really defensive, as if I was somehow appointed the MLK Jr. etiquette police and felt like someone should have asked me before playing it.
Maybe it's because when I was in middle school, I did a long interview with my older neighbor about segregation and it made my heart hurt, and I'm partial to the good fight.
Kenny G = "I Have a Dream" appropriate
Sweaty discotech = not.
“Well,” Megan said. “We are at the 'Fuck me I’m Famous' party. And Martin Luther King, Jr. is famous.”
She was right on both counts.
It happened to be dress up as a celebrity night at the discotech. (There were a lot of Britney Spears lookalikes.)
“You think that’s why they’re playing ‘I Have a Dream?’ I asked, as I took a sip from my vodka/Fanta.
“No, probably just a coincidence,” she said. “But I wouldn’t mind F-ing him."
“MEGAN!” I shouted. This isn’t progressive! This isn't equality!
“Oh, calm down,” she said.
All the other American students agreed with Megan. When I told them later about the song, they said they thought it was actually QUITE progressive and we got into a typical college student debate about it.
I was outvoted, but still stood my ground that I thought playing a techno song with “I Have a Dream” laid over it all chopped up and stripped of its meaning and message was mierda, amigos.
For all my defending of Dr. King, you’d think the man would find a way to pull some strings and give me the day off today.
But no, I was grudingly up and at work early this morning and I wasn't happy about it.
I wasn't the only one in the office. My brotha-brotha-brotha-brotha and sista had to work, too.
Someone find me some orange Fanta.