Soul to Soul

On July 24, The NUWU team of Fawn Douglass, A.B. Wilkinson, PhD, and Michael Collins talked about the Cultural Arts and Activism Complex in the Huntridge area of downtown Las Vegas that works to uplift all communities through strengthening cultural knowledge and identity through the arts, activism, and education. The conversation ended with a quick look at AB's new book - Blurring the Lines of Race and Freedom: Mulattoes and Mixed Bloods in English Colonial America.

What is Soul to Soul?

Soul to Soul - Universal Ideas for a Brighter Tomorrow
This show is a free-for-all of positive energy that will include discussions about books, music, politics. books, food, COVID-19, oral interviews, books, and Las Vegas History. I will invite people from the community, all college and university campuses, businesses, and organizations for chats to connect hearts and souls throughout the city.

The following is a special
programming sponsored by public

radio K, u and v 91.5. The
content of soul to soul does not

reflect the views or opinions of
91.5 Jazz and more, the

University of Nevada Las Vegas,
or the Board of Regents of the

Nevada System of Higher
Education.

So to solve universal ideas for
a brighter tomorrow, thank you

so much for joining us today.
This show is a free for all of

positive energy that will
include book discussions, music,

politics, books, food COVID-19,
oral history, books, and Las

Vegas history. So welcome. My
show today is with fawn Douglas

fawn is an indigenous artist,
and an activist who is currently

completing the MFA program at
UNLV. Her practice includes the

intersections of art, social
justice, community, education,

culture, identity and place.
Also, we have a B working son,

who is an associate professor in
the department of history here

at UNLV, and is the author of
blurring the lines of race and

freedom mulatos and mixed bloods
in English colonial America. He

has research and teaching
interests and in African

American history, Native
American history, ethnic

studies, decolonial theory and
critical race theory in the

Americas, including the US,
Latin America and the Caribbean.

We also have a third guest who
did not send me an intro, so I'm

gonna allow him to do it
himself. Michael Collins. Hi,

Michael.

Hello, everybody. My name is
Michael Collins. I'm a

registered nurse. I recently
retired from University Medical

Center. I'm originally from
Kansas City, Kansas, I have

roots in the Muskogee Creek
Nation of Oklahoma. In the time

that I've been in Las Vegas,
I've been involved with the SEIU

Local 1107 For many years, and
I've also been an activist in

the community and a former
member and of the gay lesbian

transgender community center in
the early 90s. Here 2000s Here

in Las Vegas, and I have a
baccalaureate degree from UNLV,

as well as an associate's degree
from Metropolitan Community

College in Kansas City, Kansas.
Fantastic.

And so who do you work for right
now? Who are you working with

right now.

I'm currently the president of
indigenous AF. Indigenous AF is

a not for profit 501 C three,
that has been formed to provide

distributions to artists in
communities groups within the

Las Vegas, or state of Nevada,
that are involved in cultural

reconciliation and
identification, decolonization,

and also just really dynamic
groups of people who are

interested in positive change.

Wonderful, so far. And can you
tell me about new? Yes. Am I

pronouncing that correctly? Yes,

new oak. So new means the
people, specifically the

Southern Paiute people, and I'm
a member of the Las Vegas Paiute

Tribe here, and my art reflects,
you know, some of our histories

and culture and cultural
landscape. And so I named myself

new arts for my arts. And last
year I partnered with well, my

partner, Avi Wilkinson, and to
create new arts, LLC. But from

that, you know, those are our
buildings. Those are what we've

done on Maryland Parkway. But
what's really important is the

nonprofit that we've also
started and that we're here to

talk about today.

That's right. So I want to tell
you to talk about that

collaboration, that togetherness
of new and indigenous AF, how

does how does they fit?

You want me to talk about the
golden ticket? So like Vaughn

said, new art is kind of her art
business. She's an artist. I'm

kind of just the sidekick and do
a lot of the finances and things

like that. But fun is the talent
I guess we'd say and then we

have a collective of probably
almost well around 15 people,

some of them artists, some of
them activist and we're renting

out several Studios. was to who
we call the core group. And

they've been really supportive
and working together with us to

push for positive change in the
community. And so that's kind of

new art. And that space is right
up on Maryland Parkway right by

the circle Park, behind the
hundreds theater on Charleston.

And it's obvious you can't miss
it nice and bright. Yes.

So and then indigenous AF is our
nonprofit that we're working on.

And that is separate from new
art. But the AF also stands for

indigenous arts facilities. So
that will support some of the

activities and things that we're
doing up at Maryland Parkway.

Oh, that's fantastic. So
Michael, how did you meet these

people?

Well, I've loosely known fun
since the early part of the

century, when I was a nurse
working with Native American

community services. So I was
aware of some of her work in the

community. And then several
years ago, I met a bee through

ceremonies that were being
conducted at my home. Oh,

wonderful.

So tell me how this idea came
about.

It was a collective idea. I
mean, we had the idea to, you

know, do these facilities for
like through new art, but we

also had dreams and goals of
just going bigger, like, we see

that there's a bigger need for
our community, we see that, you

know, there's a lot of people
who are doing a lot of hard

work, and things, you know,
especially with the activism

with the arts. And so when we,
you know, we're putting this

together for the new art
facilities, you know, people

wanted to donate to help, like,
I love what you're doing around

the education. I love what
you're doing around the arts.

And we wanted to be able to
support more of that, like

having educational forums,
teachings, Collins, and other

things. And so, you know, we saw
this need for programming. And

so we decided to, you know,
create this nonprofit

organization that could help
support that.

Good. So, cultural arts and
activism. What does that look

like? How does it come together?

A lot of different ways. Like
Vaughn said, We're have done

some teachings, we've had people
from different communities, from

the Latin X community, and I
just recently had a member Sochi

and Juan Cuevas who are renting
one of the studios and they do a

lot of work around the Aztec
calendar, and they brought in an

elder who taught on, you know,
that that kind of cultural

education and we all learn, like
our birthdays by that calendar,

and we all participated in was a
great event up there. So it

could be a teach in, we're also
doing healing circles, and maybe

fun, we'd like to talk a little
bit more about those

and how we found out about these
when they were about to happen.

So I do post on my Instagram
page for new boo arts for

different events and things, but
just because of COVID and, you

know, space, like we haven't
even officially opened yet, we

do plan to open we have a goal
for this fall. But we have do

you know, between our artists,
friends and families, you know,

done smaller events. And that's
enabled us to see like, Alright,

what do we have the capacity for
and to do so, we did a couple of

things, you know, with some of
the kids, like the families that

are involved with our group, you
know, painting doors, and, you

know, having like, you know,
really group functions that are

happening. And like Aaron was
saying, like, one of the one of

my favorite events is really
when that elder came out to

teach about his culture, and
language language around the

words and the meanings around
the symbols. And it was so

impactful. I mean, it was just
like silence, everyone was

hanging on every word of what,
you know, this man had to say

about the culture and, and
really teaching me because I

didn't know a lot about the
Aztec calendar until it was

really, you know, dissected and
explained, and just, you know,

how it has meaning for for all
people. You know, it's like,

this is not limited to one
culture, once people know about

these things. It's like we all
know about these things. And

that's we want to do too,
because the, you know, our

places are not limited to Native
American culture, because we are

on this path of decolonization,
you know, in many different

ways. And it's meant something
different for everybody who

comes to our facilities, and
even you know, the three of us

who sit here today, so

So call it go ahead. Well,

for instance, back in March,
there was a an event that

celebrated the Mochica New Year,
which is the new year for the

Aztec calendar. And it was
attended by

well over 100 100, probably at
about 300

to 300 people and the artists
displayed and sold their work.

And what what happens with that
is people become aware of other

cultures do coming in contact
with their art, and the

expressions, these, you know,
all these people are younger

than me. So I was overwhelmingly
impressed by the passion that

these young folks had for
decolonization for reclaiming

their cultures for reclaiming
their identity as as people in

the expressions that came to us
to their art, it was a wonderful

event. And I'm really looking
forward to the community

experiencing more of that.

So if I'm not on Instagram, how
do I find out about this

right now? Yeah, and probably we
should find had mentioned, we're

not officially open yet. Because
we actually have three phases of

opening. And the first phase was
opening the art studios. And

officially that's 1335, South
Maryland Parkway, the activism

Studios, where there are three
nonprofits, my scars are

beautiful, indigenous educators
empowerment, and then our

nonprofit indigenous AF are in
the north building. We call it

this the big orange one that's
1325, South Maryland Parkway.

And then we have a phase three.
That's kind of been a surprise.

And this is probably our first
kind of public announcement of

it here on soul to soul. Yes,
but we are opening new art

gallery and Community Center at
1331, South Maryland Parkway

this fall. And that will be you
know, that where where we can

get more people into kind of
this process of decolonization.

Wonderful. So tell me about the
future programming of this new

new idea?

Well as as time goes on, and
things expand, the indigenous

AF, or indigenous art facilities
will can realize more potential

as indigenous allies and
families or indigenous, Afro

futurism. And it will expand and
we hope that somewhere in the

future, it can expand to
indigenous art foundations,

which will be an endowment for
Indigenous artists in for

expressions of decolonization,
but that's way off in the

future.

Wonderful, okay, and so I'm
really excited now. So how much

space is this complete total
space that you have there?

Well, it actually consists of
three buildings and a casita in

the back. And for the
approximate square footage,

there's, there's lots. So I
think right now, because I'm

working on on the construction
with the contractors and things

and so the, the Center building,
for example, is about 1300 or

1400 square feet, and used to be
where the Jewish community

gathered at the synagogue up
there on Maryland Parkway in the

hunter Ridge neighborhood. And
so it's a pretty big building 12

to 15 foot high ceilings, and
we're going to have some nice

gathering space there. So we'll
be able to fit in a good number

of people, and then there's a
lot of parking in the back. So

it's officially three properties
together. But like Vaughn said,

there's four buildings because
we have been Alex Dupree, who's

an indigenous filmmaker, who,
who works on a lot of good film

and art himself, and he's
currently renting that that

Casita, and him and his family
have been really a joy to have

around and a lot of kids a lot,
a lot of young activities. So

it's been good,

fantastic. So I love this idea.
I love that. I know that you're

going to collaborate with lots
of people throughout the state.

I've heard a bit about it so
far. So fond, do you want to

talk about some of the
collaborations that you might

have in mind?

Yeah, for sure. I mean, because
we've already been collaborating

with other people. And like my
partner said, we're not

officially open, but we do have
a number of people who already

want to do so much with us. And
so, you know, the future looks

bright for our community. It
really does. Even currently, you

know, with my, you know, my work
like here at UNLV. And working

with the Nevada Museum of Arts,
you know, as a, you know, co

collaborator for different
things I'm currently co curating

for Venus and things that are
coming up this fall with the

artists, Rosie Simpson, who is a
phenomenal person. And she's

also going to be one of the
artists that's within the Awani

exhibition that's going to be
here at the Donna beam gallery.

And that exhibition is going to
be starting November 1 through

December 10. So keep an eye out
for that. But it's also going to

be a symposium as well, the
Awani symposium, which will be

at the Barrick Museum of Fine
Art on the I'm sorry, on

November 5, which coincides with
the UNLV is Artwalk.

Oh, this is perfect. It sounds
like there is a hunger in the

community for what you're doing.
you've only had a couple of

events and the attendance,
attendance has just been

overwhelming. Yeah, it has. So
it sounds as if that you came up

with this idea at the right
time. How do you feel about your

timing?

I feel really good about the
timing. And honestly, at first I

didn't, because this was
something that was a part of

like my five year plan, because
I wanted to focus on grad

school. This is going to be my
last year of the MFA program,

which has been so amazing, so
amazing. I really, anybody who's

an artist is going through, you
know, the, you know, college and

such should really look into it
and do it because it has been so

fulfilling. But yeah, my partner
was the one who actually saw the

the synagogue for sale. And he's
like, we should look into this

because he knows my dreams and
my hopes about you know,

galleries, studios, Community
Center, all of this and I was

very much against it. Because I
was so busy.

I saw the all the pictures on
Facebook, as you were cleaning

it up and painting it. I just
couldn't help you. But I loved

what you were doing. I want it
to be with you. I was there.

Thank you. Okay. Yeah, there's
been a lot of a lot of good

community support. And if you go
to New art.com News, and you Wu

AR T, I'm sorry,
not.com.is it.com. Yes, it is,

okay, find those these social
media tags better than me. It's

dot com, indigenous AF. Or if I
nc.org is where you can find,

you know, our website there for
the nonprofit. But yeah, we're

gonna get more pictures up. I'm
also working on that website.

Those websites, too. So

wonderful. Amazing. So Michael,
is there anything that anyone

else wants to add? Michael, what
would you like to add?

Just briefly, if you, if you
choose or would like to donate

to indigenous AF, you can do so
get that information from our

website.

Wonderful. Thank you so much for
that information, fun, anything

else that we should know, so
that we can be prepared for the

opening?

Yeah, just look forward to the
fall and keep an eye out for the

you know, social media posts. I
dropped some Easter eggs here

and there about the future. So
people can see like a picture or

a glimmer of something that's
coming up, or something in the

messaging and, and yeah, it's
gonna be fun, but just look

forward to the fall, there's a
lot that's going to be

happening. And I post different
events that are happening within

the Native community as well.
And I'm also new art is also co

partnered with the the old
forts, we're bringing back the

indigenous marketplace, which is
going to be September 25, as

well. So I wanted to kind of put
that on people's radars, to

where we're going to have like
foods, vendors, arts, crafts,

everything, and it's going to be
a lot of fun.

So if I'm an artist here in the
city, what should I know? What

should I know? About NuVu?

I think really, really, both of
the organizations we're working

with, are, you know, we have a
focus of decolonization. And

we're having more discussion
around what that means and, and

how we as people of color,
whether you're indigenous

African American, Latin X, how
do we get back to where our

ancestors come from where our
elders have lived? And we're

really trying to reclaim space,
reclaim our identities, and also

push that forward into the
future, we can't go back to

1491. You know, we can't go back
to pre colonization times. But

we can work on colonize
colonizing forces today, and

move ourselves in a positive way
into that future.

So since you said that, I have
to ask this question. So one of

your areas of research is
critical race theory. And

unfortunately, when we hear
about that today, it has just

become such a political
football, I'd like just off the

top of your head, just tell our
audience what critical race

theory is, in very simple terms,
so that we are not confused,

right, right. For me in I
specialize in critical race

theory. And for me, just looking
at the history honestly, in

critically, and just accepting
that race has played a part in

our nation's founding within the
United States. It was

instrumental in forming class
and gender hierarchies in the

colonial period, very
instrumental to our founding

fathers and their founding
documents, you know, of the

Declaration of Independence in
US Constitution. And if we're

going to be honest about our
history, and be honest about

reconciling the past with the
present, then we have to accept

that Race played a key role in
our nation's founding. And so

just being honest is, you know,
with the history a part of what

I consider critical race theory.

So I didn't think I was going to
have time to talk about your

book at all. But it sounds like
we have a few more minutes. So

AB is an author. He's one of our
professors here on campus, one

of my favorite people here on
campus. And his he has written

this book that I haven't
finished yet, because it is

dense, it is complicated. It is
looking at various ideas from

history in a completely new way.
The name of the book is blurring

the lines, the lines of race and
freedom mulatos and mixed mixed

Bloods, in English colonial
America. So AB, I was very

touched by a lot of this book,
the opening, just horrified me.

So just to get everybody else on
the same page, where we are,

tell me about that opening.

In that opening, I look at a
person who is termed mulatto, or

mulata, she's, she's a woman,
who is owned by a man, her

master Courtney, we don't even
have her name in the records.

But we know that she's
horrendously maimed, for running

away and seeking her freedom.
And I kind of look at the

complexity of that relationship,
that slave master relationship

with a person of mixed ancestry
in the very early colonial

period 1600s, in Virginia. And
so I really look at how we've

come to think about mixed race
and where we even got the idea

that races can mix, because it's
not that races mix, and you hear

people say, Oh, race is a social
construct, it really doesn't

exist. And I think a lot of what
I do in the book is bring to

light the history, just like I
talked about, it's very much a

book about critical race theory,
and about, you know, really

connecting with what we're
doing. Today, I consider the

past a part of the present, we
have to accept what has taken

place in the past and has gotten
us here, and how we're going to

deal with those things today. So
the book is really an

exploration about the idea of
racial mixture and mixed

heritage people and as many of
us in this room here are of

mixed ancestry and some of the
things that we're working on

around identity at the new art
studios is really around some of

that healing, you know, and
healing of the past in a lot of

is horrific, a lot of it's hard,
but a lot of it's beautiful, a

lot of triumph, struggle, in
overcoming, you know, adversity.

And that's, that's those are
some of the things that we're

still working on. And we kind of
pay homage to that. And we want

to build a new legacy for those
generations that are coming

after us.

So I'm from a place in
northeastern North Carolina, a

husky North Carolina, and I grew
up with that theory of the One

Drop role. And you talk about
that somewhat in the book. And

you expand upon that. When I
went away to college, from my

small town, I went to one of the
HBCUs in North Carolina, and

people looked at me with my
darker skin. And they say you

cannot be from a husky North
Carolina, because everyone else

from that area who had gone to
that school, or mulatos. And so

that's how we looked at people
in those days, we looked at the

color of the skin. So tell
people what I mean by the one

drop

rule. Yeah. You know, the one
drop rule is that in the US is

the understanding that if
someone has one African ancestor

or one traceable African
ancestor, that that makes one

fully black or quote unquote,
Negro is the term was used in

the past. And so there was a lot
of discussion. You know, this is

where we kind of get into
critical race theory, you know,

what is race? What makes one
white, what makes one black, I

personally don't really use
racial terms. So I kind of put

them in quotations and kind of
remind people that we kind of

make up these ideas. And, you
know, again, I kind of always

point back to the new art
studios and indigenous AF about

what we're doing. Because a lot
of a lot of that work is kind of

healing work. A lot of my
research is my research is I

come from very mixed ancestry.
And really just kind of kind of

working through some of those
things around colorism is really

what you're kind of describing
with your own experience. And I

kind of get into that in the
book and some of the earliest

forms of colorism within the
African American community and

other communities of color and
this is a part of colonization

that has really quite literally
made us hate ourselves in our

dark skin. And then we kind of
have this back and forth between

light skin, dark skin that's
within the African American

community. It's with in the
indigenous community, it's

within the Latinx community. And
we need to work through those

things and stop fighting each
other's the whole the whole crab

in a barrel mentality. And yes,
those are some of the things

we're working on.

What surprised me in your book,
was the punishment that white

women could get? For having
relationships with Africans? I

was just horrified. I mean, it
could be

whipped. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Yeah, I mean, a lot of servants.

In the early, you know, period,
colonial period in the 1600s,

again, 17th century, these,
these women were having

relationships with African men
with Native men. And there's a

lot of mixing in the slave and
servant quarters. Because

really, before you get to
African slavery, you have to

deal with European indentured
servitude. And so many Europeans

came to this continent, in bonds
themselves. And to be sure,

there's a difference between
servitude and slavery. And these

Europeans are able to get their
freedom. But when they're in

the, the servant and slave
quarters, they're not in the

Masters House, and they're
living amongst slaves amongst

people of color, and their
intermixing. And so, you know,

there's even a law in Maryland,
which made European women slaves

for the lifetime of their
African husbands who were

enslaved. And not a lot of
people know about this history,

but it was there. And this is
where we really get the first

kind of what we understand is
mixed people in North America

and some of those ideas around
mixture.

Well, I was just, I am just so
surprised by so much of the

book. So everybody you have you
have to read the book is just

amazing. Again, the title is
blurring the lines of race and

freedom mulatos and mixed
Bloods, in English colonial

America, amazing research. So
I'd like to see if any one of my

three guests. So my three
guests, again, are Michael

Collins, a B. Wilkinson, and
Juan Douglas. Any any closing

remarks, we have about two
minutes?

Well, thank you for having us
clay tea, we really appreciate

the opportunity, the opportunity
to express what's going on with

us, to your your audience, and
if anyone would care to, I would

encourage them to go to the
website is indigenous indigenous

af.org and see what we're doing?
See what we're planning, see how

we intend to expand our efforts
to support artists in this

community, individual and groups
in the community that are like

minded, and we're interested in
their culture and decolonial

decolonization wonderful,

fallen?

Yeah, and I would encourage
other people to also educate

themselves. UNLV now has a minor
in American Indian Indigenous

Studies. And so they can take it
here and learn about that we

have some really amazing faculty
that are within that. And And

yes, you know, please come out
to the exhibition that's going

to be here on campus, the Awani
exhibition, Awani meeting,

balance in the Southern Paiute
language, please come to the

symposium and there'll be more
news about that on the websites

that people will see as well.

Fantastic. AB last word,

I think I'm good. I think, my
partner here my partners here

have pretty much covered it in
this thank you for all the good

work that you're doing. And we
really appreciate you having us

on today. Wonderful. It

was great having you here. So
this is soul to soul, universal

ideas for a brighter tomorrow.
This show again, is a free for

all of positive energy. That
will include book discussions,

music, politics, books, food
COVID-19, oral history, books,

and Las Vegas history. Thank you
so much.

You've been listening to special
programming sponsored by public

radio K, u and v 91.5. The
content of this program does not

reflect the views or opinions of
91.5 Jazz and more. The

University of Nevada Las Vegas,
or the Board of Regents of the

Nevada System of Higher
Education.