The Black Whole Collective
By Eric T. Campbell
The Michigan Citizen
A group of like-minded people coming together to share in an experience that’s expressive and healing for the body and mind sounds like a utopian gathering not commonly witnessed in the cityscape as you drive up or down Woodward Avenue.
But if you look closely as you pass the block south of Glendale in Highland Park, you’ll notice a sign that is entirely indicative of what you’ll find inside.
The Black Whole is a collective of artists, healers, poets and retailers dedicated to maintaining a space which takes different parts from the participants and provides an environment that is whole in its approach to nurturing one’s self. The products on the shelves all reflect a desire to improve spiritually and physically those who are drawn inside.
The Collective on Woodward began several years ago, across the street from the current location, with the partnership of Goddess Shu, who had a line of spiritual products under the name Heaven on Earth, and Sauni Daniels, who operated a African Art and clothing line called Stolen Legacy.
There occurred a transitional period when they were selling products at flea markets and festivals. They ended up, however, finding the current space on Woodward in an area that was already familiar to them and decided to open things up even more.
“When we were across the street I had the idea for a collective,” Shauni said. “Because I knew a lot of Black people who owned small businesses, who wanted to have businesses on a larger scale but couldn’t afford it.”
“We advertised to more businesses to come and share the space,” added Goddess Shu. “Some of them pay a small fee depending on how much merchandise they have and they get advertising, they get cards, they get flyers.”
In the true spirit of the collective, vendors and artists gain an advantage by not having to be at the point of sale all the time. This responsibility is shared by all members of the collective and allows those who may still carry the burden of the ‘day job’ to co-exist in the two venues.
“Before, the collective members used to choose a day to work,” explained Goddess Shu. “So they would come and choose certain hours, they would work maybe Tuesday and Thursday from one to three. It was broken down like that.”
Often when you visit The Black Whole you’ll see Goddess Shu watching the store, along with Shauni, poet I. Asumi, and the BlackMan, who produces and records music for his label BlackShu Records.
The Black Whole displays a wide range of handmade products including African clothing, oils, candles, jewelry and art — mostly produced by local or small artisans.
Anchored by the Wildberry brand, their selection of incense is one of the largest in the city.
Candles by Angela are made with soy wax and cotton wicks and propagate their intoxicating scents for three to four straight days. Bar soaps by Moonflower Creationsare displayed among several other handmade, natural soaps and beauty products. Handmade bags by Black Threads hang on the wall opposite a rack of African and African-inspired clothing.
Original design t-shirts by Urban Profile present messages promoting the tradition of resistance in the African American community.
The idea of weaving many visions into one is never forgotten.
“We create a whole essence,” explained I.Asumi, who also is a spiritual advisor. “That’s what makes it so powerful — it’s always changing.”
But the nurturing approach practiced at The Black Whole isn’t just limited to what’s happening inside the store. An entire article could be devoted to how The Black Whole attempts to reach outside of its doors and into the surrounding community. They’ve hired people from outreach programs such as Doorsteps and the Savannah House; they’ve worked with organizations like PAM and FocusHope as well as running the non-profit organization, The Moon Ministry.
This April, the Moon Ministry is starting quarterly events and will give away umbrellas to the homeless and underprivileged. Our Spring Cleaning Series will continue March 31, with a lecture on Preparing your Sacred Space.
“We’ve become family with the community,” says Goddess Shu. “They look out for us too, and we look out for them.”
The Black Whole is a place rooted in a commitment to celebrating all the parts that are necessary to function as a group with common needs and goals. And it brings a broader definition to the word community, reminding us that we are all equal and irreplaceable parts of one beautiful whole.
Black Whole Fridays, complete with DJs spinning wax, is hosted by BlackShu Records every Friday night from 9 pm-1 am. The Black Whole is open Monday thru Saturday 10:30 am-7 pm and is locate at 12521 Woodward Ave. in Highland Park.