I'm particularly grateful to Edwin Torres for responding in this space about some of the curatorial conversation going back and forth in the summertime. I think it's also important to note for the record here that none of my commentary was meant to demonize particular artists or shame them from using a particular word. As is usually the case, my beef is with management: How can an institution impose that word on an artistic endeavor? My belief is still that the artists here were forced to respond to this thing in a particularly improvised and unexpected way and PLACE a context on the title. That context was not the Museo's choice. Their choices, as I've said before, revolved around marketing this show as little more than "hot word wizardry" and "Latino spoken word."
I've yet to receive the official response from Museo's management, but they are aware of the community's concern (many letters have been written) and are in the midst of trying to get back to me.
Meanwhile, let me add this little nugget to the discussion, one which I missed completely at the time.
Another program of El Museo's entitled "Oh Snap: Young Powerful Voices At Work" allows teens to participate in a spoken word workshop and then perform their work at the aforementioned Spic Up show. The text on the advertising for this program is as follows:
The Peace Poets, a community based arts collective from New York City, facilitate a two-hour spoken word workshop for teens. Right after the workshops! Participating youth will share their work with the public as part of El Museo's spoken word series SPIC UP/SPEAK OUT!
So it is that Museo has sponsored a community writers' workshop, the stated goal of which is to get teens to perform at the Spic Up show. This again with no intellectual context or linguistic niche offered as explanation. This is particularly insidious, in my book, because now we are offering our teens a chance to spread the word: "spic" is not only acceptable to name a show with and use in regular conversation, but now it just might get you a chance to shine in front of an audience.
The more I think about this, the less I like it. And the less I like it, the less patient I become.